Breaking News – LGBT Weekly http://lgbtweekly.com Fri, 27 May 2016 20:38:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 California Legislature approves bill allowing donation of HIV-positive organs http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/27/california-legislature-approves-bill-allowing-donation-of-hiv-positive-organs/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/27/california-legislature-approves-bill-allowing-donation-of-hiv-positive-organs/#respond Fri, 27 May 2016 19:58:47 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70893

SACRAMENTO — The California legislature today passed a bill that would allow organ transplants between HIV-positive donors and HIV-positive recipients.  Senate Bill (SB) 1408, authored by Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) and co-sponsored by Equality California, AIDS Project Los Angeles, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, and Positive Women’s Network-USA, would bring state law in line with federal law. The bill passed both the Assembly and the Senate unanimously.

“These lifesaving surgeries have been proven safe and are now allowable under federal law,” said Sen. Allen.  “There is no reason for state law to maintain an antiquated prohibition on organ donation by HIV-positive persons.  By expanding the pool of organ donors, we will shorten the time for all persons on the organ donor waiting lists, and save lives in the process.”

The number of individuals in need of organ transplants far exceeds the availability of healthy organs.  Yet California law criminalizes transplantation of organs and tissue from an HIV-positive donor to an HIV-positive recipient. Allowing the donation HIV-positive organs and tissue would save the lives of hundreds of HIV-positive patients each year, and shorten the waiting list for individuals awaiting transplants.

“It should not be a crime to save someone’s life, yet current law criminalizes the donation of HIV-positive organs to HIV-positive recipients,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California.  “There are currently HIV-positive people in California waiting desperately for an organ transplant.  This is the first step in what we hope will be a number of measures to modernize California’s antiquated laws that harm and stigmatize people living with HIV. We urge Governor Brown to sign SB 1408 swiftly.”

SB 1408 is a first step towards modernizing a number of California laws that stigmatize people living with HIV by treating HIV differently than other communicable diseases. Most of these statues were enacted in the late 1980s, at a time of public panic about HIV and its transmission. Societal and medical understanding of the disease has since greatly improved, and effective treatments minimize transmission and give people living with HIV a normal lifespan. However, people living with HIV still can face felony charges, even when no real risk of transmission is present.

Equality California is working with Californians for HIV Criminalization Reform (CHCR), a coalition dedicated to modernizing California’s HIV criminal laws.

SB 1408 now goes on to the governor for his signature.

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Vermont joins growing number of jurisdictions protecting LGBTQ kids from conversion therapy http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/25/vermont-joins-growing-number-of-jurisdictions-protecting-lgbtq-kids-from-conversion-therapy/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/25/vermont-joins-growing-number-of-jurisdictions-protecting-lgbtq-kids-from-conversion-therapy/#respond Wed, 25 May 2016 19:28:44 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70795
Peter Shumlin

Peter Shumlin

MONTPELIER, Vt. – Today, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin signed Senate Bill 132 into law, making Vermont the eighth jurisdiction—behind California, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, New York, Washington D.C., and Cincinnati—to protect LGBTQ youth from the dangers of “conversion therapy.”

Senate Bill 132, which protects LGBTQ youth from mental health providers attempting to change their sexual orientation or gender identity through practices that are linked to substance abuse, extreme depression, and suicide, was approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives in April. The law will go into effect July 1.

“We are thrilled that Vermont has joined the rapidly growing number of states leading the way to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy,” said the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) Youth Policy Counsel Carolyn Reyes. “Vermont families can now have confidence that the mental health professional they turn to in times of uncertainty may not use their state license to profit from their children’s pain. Most importantly, Vermont children can now rest easy in the knowledge that they cannot be forced or coerced to undergo dangerous and discredited treatments to try to change who they are. Today brings us one step closer to the day when all LGBTQ youth know they were born perfect.”

Said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin: “No young person should be subjected to this extremely harmful and discredited practice, which medical professionals agree not only doesn’t work, but can also have life-threatening consequences. It is nothing short of child abuse. We thank Governor Shumlin and the Vermont State Legislature for prioritizing the well-being and safety of our nation’s youth, and remain committed to working with our partners to ensure that this quackery is banned from coast to coast.”

NCLR, HRC, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, Pride Center Vermont, and Outright Vermont played a key role in organizing the coalition behind the bill. A broad range of groups supported Senate Bill 132, including national LGBTQ organizations and civil rights organizations.

NCLR and HRC are at the forefront of efforts to protect youth and their families from “conversion therapy,” and work closely with legislators and state leaders across the country to introduce bills protecting youth from these dangerous practices.

In February, NCLR, HRC, and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a historic federal consumer fraud complaint against a major provider of “conversion therapy,” urging the Federal Trade Commission to take enforcement action against the organization and all practitioners engaging in similar fraudulent advertising and business practices.

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New HRC guide helps LGBTQ young people navigate challenges of living independently http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/24/new-hrc-guide-helps-lgbtq-young-people-navigate-challenges-of-living-independently/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/24/new-hrc-guide-helps-lgbtq-young-people-navigate-challenges-of-living-independently/#respond Tue, 24 May 2016 20:44:30 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70753

On Our OwnWASHINGTON – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation in partnership with the True Colors Fund, co-founded by Cyndi Lauper, and Time Out Youth Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, released an innovative guide for LGBTQ youth facing the daunting prospect of living on their own after leaving unsupportive or abusive homes, or aging out of foster care.

On Our Own: A Survival Guide for Independent LGBTQ Youth is geared toward older teens and young adults forced to fend for themselves, typically without parental support and often lacking the skills or resources needed to live safely and begin building a successful life. The guide provides practical advice on essential topics ranging from finding housing, going to school and opening a bank account, to getting a job, accessing healthcare and living on a budget.

“As we work toward a more equal world for LGBTQ people, we know that our youth remain vulnerable, particularly when they are rejected by their families simply because of who they are,” said Mary Beth Maxwell, HRC Senior Vice President for Programs, Research, and Training. “The distressing reality is that far too many LGBTQ young people are forced to fend for themselves, and struggle daily to find housing, food, and other basic resources.”

“As the mother of a teenager, I’m constantly reminded of how important it is for young people to have help and guidance as they transition to adulthood,” Maxwell said. “We were honored to partner with True Colors and Time Out Youth to provide this practical roadmap for LGBTQ youth looking to independently establish stability and security in their lives.”

Across the country, LGBTQ youth are particularly vulnerable to homelessness. Research shows that of the nearly two million young people affected by homelessness each year, up to 40 percent identify as LGBTQ — even though they make up only five to 10 percent of the overall youth population.  Many homeless LGBTQ young people say they have been rejected by their families. They also often face harassment or discrimination when attempting to access shelters and other services. The new guide highlights many LGBTQ-friendly service providers.

LGBTQ youth are also overrepresented in the foster care system, where they face unique challenges because of their identities, and often age out without the support necessary to live successfully on their own.

“LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness may not know how to navigate certain situations, like opening a bank account, accessing healthcare, or locating food – and they may not have anyone to ask for guidance,” said Jama Shelton, Deputy Executive Director of True Colors Fund. “‘On Our Own’ provides the information and resources these young people need to thrive.”

“So many of our youth become independent at an early age and do not know where to turn for help or have the basic skills to survive on their own,” said Rodney S. Tucker, Executive Director, Time Out Youth. “We hope this guide will answer some of their big questions and get them on the path to stability.”

For more information on LGBTQ youth, including issues of homelessness and foster care, visit http://www.hrc.org/resources/topic/children-youth.

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MLB to investigate Padres ‘anthem’ debacle http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/23/mlb-to-investigate-padres-anthem-debacle/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/23/mlb-to-investigate-padres-anthem-debacle/#respond Tue, 24 May 2016 00:13:24 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70744

MLBMajor League Baseball (MLB) is to investigate the Padres over the National Anthem debacle surrounding the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus at last Saturdays ‘Out at the Park ‘ event.

According to a report in the San Diego Union-Tribune the MLB’s investigations department will begin to gather information to determine why the chorus was unable to perform as a pre-recorded voice of a previous singer played.

MLB spokesman Pat Courtney said the Padres reached out to his office.

Padres President and CEO Mike Dee contacted Bob Lehman, the Chorus’ executive director shortly after the Padres had released a statement Sunday night stating that they had fired the contractor who was responsible for the incident and issued an apology.

“He walked me through the entire process of their investigation step-by-step, and I feel it was a very thorough investigation,” Lehman said. “It makes me feel that I can believe now down in my heart that this was an accident and not something intentional.

“That’s part of what we were looking for. I want to make sure that every chorus member that was on the field and every community member that was there for LGBT Night knows without a doubt that it was an accident. I think that can help the community start the healing process.”

While encouraged, Lehman wouldn’t go as far as saying he had accepted the Padres’ apology, the Union-Tribune reported.

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House anti-LGBTQ amendment to Defense Budget Bill ‘designed to destroy people’s livelihoods’ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/20/house-anti-lgbtq-amendment-to-defense-budget-bill-designed-to-destroy-peoples-livelihoods/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/20/house-anti-lgbtq-amendment-to-defense-budget-bill-designed-to-destroy-peoples-livelihoods/#respond Fri, 20 May 2016 17:37:23 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70686
Rea Carey

Rea Carey

WASHINGTON, DC—The National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund is describing yesterday’s passage of an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act — that would strip non-discrimination protections from the millions of employees of federal contractors— as “designed to destroy people’s livelihoods.”

“It’s an absolute disgrace that the House Majority Leadership would push this outrageous amendment that is designed to promote discrimination against LGBTQ employees of federal contractors and to destroy people’s livelihoods. Our hope is that the champions of equality will prevail and this attack on people’s right to make a living for themselves and their families will be weeded out in conference committee,” said Rea Carey, executive director, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund.

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More than 1,000 San Diegans come out to celebrate legacy of Harvey Milk http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/19/more-than-1000-san-diegans-come-out-to-celebrate-legacy-of-harvey-milk/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/19/more-than-1000-san-diegans-come-out-to-celebrate-legacy-of-harvey-milk/#respond Thu, 19 May 2016 20:03:52 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70670

Today, more than 1,000 San Diegans turned out to the San Diego Bayfront Hilton Hotel to celebrate San Diego’s eighth annual Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast.

Milk became one of the nation’s first openly gay elected officials when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. He was assassinated just 11 months after taking office. The San Diego event again featured a focus on the importance of coalition work in honor of Milk, who championed efforts to work across issues and communities.

Nicole Murray Ramirez Photo: Facebook

Nicole Murray Ramirez
Photo: Facebook

City Commissioner Nicole Murray Ramirez, founder and co-chair of the event, as well as co-chair of the Harvey Milk Foundation International Advisory Board spoke about San Diego’s history of celebrating Milk, along with two other key civil rights leaders who successfully utilized the power of coalitions in their work.

“San Diegans every year rightfully come together for the Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez civil rights breakfasts, and now, once again, for the eighth year, San Diegans from all walks of life have come together for the Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast,” Murray Ramirez said. “Dr. King, Cesar Chavez and Harvey Milk were about human rights and equality for all.

“I know, and everyone in this room knows, that if King, Chavez and Milk were alive today, they would be speaking out against those who want to build a wall on our border and deport our working and contributing undocumented workers. They would speak out against those trying to defund Planned Parenthood and opposed equal pay for women. They would be speaking out loudly about the Flint, Michigan water disaster. They would be speaking out against … the states which have proposed new restrictions on voting rights that limit access to the polls for people of color and young voters,” Murray Ramirez continued. “They would be speaking out against those who are trying to demonize our transgender Americans.”

Joining Murray Ramirez in welcoming the attendees was Dr. Delores A. Jacobs, chief executive officer of The San Diego LGBT Community Center and co-chair of the Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast.

Dr. Delores Jacobs Photo: Facebook

Dr. Delores Jacobs
Photo: Facebook

“It has been said many times by many people that the LGBTQ movement in urban communities is one of the most diverse and intersectional movements in the nation,” she said. “In San Diego, we are African American, Latino, Pan-Asian, Native American and white. We are immigrants from many homelands, some, where it’s not safe to exist as an LGBTQ person. We are gay, lesbian, bisexual and heterosexual. We are men, women, gender-queer, non-binary, gender non-confirming and trans. We are children, youth, young adults, middle-aged adults (as much as we don’t want to admit that), and we are seniors. We are aunts, uncles, siblings, godparents, parents and grandparents. We are Democrats, Republicans, Decline to Staters.

“We, and our allies, our friends, our families of birth and choice are all those things and more. We are the movement. We are San Diego,” Jacobs continued. “And this morning, the coalition of those who love and support justice — and the coalition of all those who will be voting June 7 – gather together to look at the past year of achievements and future achievements that have yet to come.”

The event opened with the singing of the National Anthem by the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus. The invocation was offered by Rabbi Laurie Coskey, executive director of the Interfaith Center for Worker Justice, and the Very Rev. Penny Bridges, Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral. There was a brief moment of silence to acknowledge some of San Diego’s LGBT trailblazers that were lost over the last year, including Dr. Al Best, Kurt Cunningham, Dr. Bill Beck and Christopher Allen.

Kevin Faulconer Photo: Facebook

Kevin Faulconer
Photo: Facebook

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer spoke about his work in the LGBT community, including serving as co-chair of Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, and efforts to build a permanent AIDS memorial in the city. San Diego’s LGBT elected officials were recognized, as well as a host of allied elected officials and labor and educational leaders.

Openly gay San Diego City Councilmember Todd Gloria presented the Harvey Milk Lifetime Achievement Award to former Houston Mayor Annise Parker. Parker was elected as an out lesbian on the Houston City Council, from 1998-2003, as City Controller from 2004-2010 and ultimately as mayor of the nation’s fourth largest city from 2010-2016.

Parker accepted the award, not just for her work as an elected official, but as an activist who has worked in the LGBT community since the 1970s.

“I have lived the arc of the modern gay movement. I’ve seen the changes,”she said. “When I first started as an activist, I used to deny that there was a gay agenda. Y’all remember that? Some of you older folks remember. Everywhere I went as a baby activist in the ’70s and ’80s they would say, ‘You’re just here to promote the gay agenda.’  And I used to say there is no such thing as a gay agenda. Gradually over time, I realized that I lied about that. Because there really is a gay agenda.

Todd Gloria and Annise Parker Photo: Facebook

Todd Gloria and Annise Parker
Photo: Facebook

“We want to be able to go to school without being bullied. We want be able to serve openly and honorably in the military. We want to be able to work in jobs we love, to pay taxes to the country that doesn’t sometimes  quite love us back. We want to be able to honor and respect our relationships; to protect our children; to be able to walk down any street in America in safety. Sometimes these days, we just want to be able to pee in private,” Parker said to enthusiastic audience response.

Among the most inspiring moments of the morning were the remarks of two San Diego trans activists, high school students who are the newest members of the Mayor’s LGBT Advisory Board, Lily Rubenstein and Trinity Anne Martinez, who received a standing ovation.

The Nicole Murray Ramirez/Harvey Milk GLBT Student Scholarship Award was also presented by the Imperial Court de San Diego to the San Diego Trans/GNC Youth Project, an organization created by and for trans youth.

Gloria returned to the stage to present the Harvey Milk Achievement Award to Michael Connolly, who was elected to the Alberta, Canada Legislative Assembly last year at the age of 21 and became one of the first three openly LGBT people to serve in that body.

“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak to you all this morning before Prime Minister Trudeau decides to build a wall that you’re all going to pay for,” Connolly joked.

Todd Gloria and Michael Connolly Photo: Facebook

Todd Gloria and Michael Connolly
Photo: Facebook

“As LGBTQ+ politicians, it is not only our job to represent our constituents, it’s also our job to lead our community. It’s our job to show LGBTQ+ youth around the world that we are not limited by our sexual orientation or gender identity, but we are empowered by it,” Connolly said. “It is my duty to build upon what those who have come before me have been able to accomplish. Because of their work, I’m able to walk the streets without fear of being beaten to death. Because of their work, I am free to marry the man I love. Because of their work, I stand before you this morning and am free to continue to fight.

“Until everyone in our LGBTQ+ community is able to walk the streets without fear of oppression, or use a public washroom without fear of persecution, we must continue to fight,” he continued. “For we do not fight for ourselves, we fight for the future generations so they need not to.”

Next year’s Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast is scheduled for Friday, May 19, 2017.

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House Committee rejects vote on amendment safeguarding critical LGBT federal contracting protections http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/18/house-committee-rejects-vote-on-amendment-safeguarding-critical-lgbt-federal-contracting-protections/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/18/house-committee-rejects-vote-on-amendment-safeguarding-critical-lgbt-federal-contracting-protections/#respond Wed, 18 May 2016 18:29:54 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70611
Charlie Dent

Charlie Dent

WASHINGTON – Today, the House Republican Leadership prevented a debate and vote on an amendment to remove an anti-LGBT provision from the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) offered the bipartisan amendment to strike the provision, which would allow, under the guise of religious liberty, taxpayer-funded discrimination in contracts and grants across the federal government.

The provision jeopardizes President Obama’s executive order prohibiting discrimination in federal contracting based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy released the following statement: “We are extremely disappointed that the House Republican Leadership has refused to allow a debate and vote on a bipartisan amendment to strike a discriminatory, harmful provision that undercuts protections for LGBT employees of federal contractors and grantees. The House is poised to join the ranks of North Carolina, Mississippi, Indiana and other states that are targeting LGBT Americans.”

“We are grateful to Reps. Charlie Dent (R-PA) and Adam Smith (D-WA) for leading the amendment, and to their strong bipartisan cosponsors–Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Richard Hanna (R-NY), Mike Coffman (R-CO), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Rick Larsen (D-WA), Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Scott Peters (D-CA). They understand that this House should be expanding protections for LGBT people rather than catering to the far right wing and taking our country backwards.”

The anti-LGBT provision, which originated as an amendment offered by Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK), was approved by a vote of 33-29 last month in the House Armed Services Committee. It would allow sweeping anti-LGBT discrimination in all federal agencies, not just the Department of Defense. The vaguely-written amendment could have far-reaching consequences, potentially even undermining existing federal nondiscrimination provisions protecting workers against discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, and more.

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Statement by the president on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/17/statement-by-the-president-on-the-international-day-against-homophobia-and-transphobia/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/17/statement-by-the-president-on-the-international-day-against-homophobia-and-transphobia/#respond Tue, 17 May 2016 17:03:34 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70589

Created in 2004 to draw the attention of policymakers, opinion leaders, social movements, the public and the media to the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTI people internationally, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) has established itself the single most important date for LGBTI communities to mobilize on a worldwide scale.

Today the White House released the following statement from President Obama marking the day.

On May 17, Americans and people around the world mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia by reaffirming the dignity and inherent worth of all people, regardless of who they love or their gender identity.

Our nation is committed to the principle that all people should be treated fairly and with respect. Advancing this goal has long been a cornerstone of American diplomacy, and I am proud that my Administration has made advancing the human rights of LGBT individuals a specific focus of our engagement around the world. I am also proud of the great strides that our nation has made at home in recent years, including that we now have marriage equality as a result of last year’s landmark Supreme Court decision.

At the same time, there is much work to be done to combat homophobia and transphobia, both at home and abroad.‎ In too many places, LGBT individuals grow up forced to conceal or deny who they truly are for fear of persecution, discrimination, and violence. All nations and all communities can, and must, do better. Fortunately, human rights champions and good citizens around the world continue to strive towards this goal every day by lifting up the simple truth that LGBT rights are human rights. The United States honors their work and will continue to support them in their struggle for human dignity.

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‘Being LGBTI in China’ survey report launched http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/17/being-lgbti-in-china-survey-report-launched/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/17/being-lgbti-in-china-survey-report-launched/#respond Tue, 17 May 2016 16:55:29 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70584

China --BEIJING A report based on a survey of nearly 30,000 respondents from all provinces in China reflecting the life experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people was launched today at the United Nations Compound in Beijing to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT).

Entitled “Being LGBTI in China — A National Survey on Social Attitudes towards Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression (SOGIE)“, the report explores the legal environment, education, employment, family, faith and access to health services, mental health, media, social services and other areas, in regards to LGBTI people in China. It also examines social attitudes towards LGBTI people, including discrimination and unfair treatment.

The report finds that many LGBTI people in China still live in the shadows, with only 5% of them willing to live their diversity openly. It shows that the majority of LGBTI people continue to face discrimination in many aspects of their lives, most importantly within the family, where the deepest forms of rejection and abuse reside, followed by schools and the workplace.

The survey showed that access to health and social services remains difficult when one’s sexual orientation or gender diversity is known to, or even just suspected by, service providers. This stigma is doubly reinforced for those sexual and gender minority people who are living with HIV, who continue to face hurdles in accessing prevention and treatment services as well as stigma-free psychosocial support and counseling.

Most importantly, however, the survey paints a country in transition, where the majority of people do not hold negative nor stereotypical views of LGBTI people, with young people being more open towards and accepting of sexual and gender diversity. The report suggests that this, in many ways, represents an important opportunity for LGBTI people and depicts a society that could achieve rapid and profound change, especially if guided in the right direction by civil society, policymakers, academia, the media as well as LGBTI people themselves. The report recommends that this is why education and evidence-based information, including more realistic portrayals of sexual diversity in the media, have a pivotal role to play going forward.

Jointly implemented by UNDP, Peking University Sociology Department and the Beijing LGBT Center, with great support from dozens of national and local community, business and media organizations, the survey aims to provide baseline information for both community and institutional organizations, and to promote the adoption of anti-discrimination and protective laws and policies for China’s sexual and gender minorities.

“LGBTI people represent some of the most marginalized and vulnerable populations in Asia and the Pacific, including China,” said Agi Veres, Country Director of UNDP China. “Attention to their needs is therefore essential if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, a key feature of which is the underlying principle and commitment to ‘leave no one behind’.”

The report launch was attended by representatives from government, United Nations agencies, foreign missions in China, academic experts and scholars, community organizations, media organizations and other development partners.

The report was supported by ‘Being LGBTI in Asia‘ – a regional programme aimed at addressing inequality, violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status, and promotes universal access to health and social services.

To view the report click here.

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Snubbing gay Dist. 3 candidate, Faulconer endorses Bernal http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/16/snubbing-gay-dist-3-candidate-faulconer-endorses-bernal/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/16/snubbing-gay-dist-3-candidate-faulconer-endorses-bernal/#respond Mon, 16 May 2016 21:20:06 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70570
San Diego Mayot Kevin Faulconer endorses Anthony Bernal for Council District Three Photo: Thom Senzee

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer endorses Anthony Bernal for Council District Three
Photo: Thom Senzee

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer has endorsed Anthony Bernal, who is running to replace his boss, District 3 Councilman Todd Gloria. Gloria, the only member of the LGBT community currently serving on the council, will be termed out of office at the end of his current term. Bernal, who is straight, is a senior field deputy in Gloria’s office.

“I’ve known Anthony for a number of years,” Faulconer said during a press conference outside of City Hall. “I’ve seen first-hand the work that he does with community members, the work that he does with city council members. For the past seven years, Anthony Bernal has worked alongside Councilmember Todd Gloria to solve problems. Anthony’s a problem-solver, helping residents to fill potholes and assisting small businesses get permits. Anthony Bernal has done it.”

Should Bernal prevail over his opponent, Chris Ward—chief of staff to State Sen. Marty Block—his win would create the first San Diego City Council without a single gay man or lesbian member in many years. There has never been an openly bisexual or transgender member of the city’s legislative body.

“I will represent all of the constituents of District 3 regardless of orientation, gender, race or any other status,” Bernal said. “That includes, families, individuals and small businesses.”

San Diego LGBT Weekly asked the mayor if his decision to endorse the non-LGBT candidate was a betrayal of a community whose votes may have helped put him over the top during his election campaign to replace disgraced former mayor, Bob Filner.

“I’m a strong advocate of the LGBT community, as is Anthony,” said Faulconer.

Nevertheless, City Commissioner Nicole Murray Ramirez, a longtime LGBT-equality activist who was named “mayor of Hillcrest” by none other than Councilman Gloria during his tenure as interim mayor, says Faulconer’s endorsement of Bernal is a net negative for San Diego’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

“I conveyed my disappointment to the mayor for endorsing Anthony Bernal,” Ramirez said during a phone interview from Fresno, where he is helping organize Latino voters. “And as a Latino, I’d like to point out a vast majority of my fellow Latino community members, leaders, activists and organizations have endorsed Chris Ward.”

Indeed, Ward appears to have been endorsed by more organizations focused on advocating for Latino community members than his opponent. However, Bernal, who is Latino, has been endorsed by the San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

According to Ramirez, the mayor’s endorsement of a non-gay candidate over a gay one to fill a historically LGBT council seat doesn’t jeopardize Faulconer’s standing as an ally of the LGBT community.

“The mayor expressed his longtime working relationship with Anthony,” Ramirez said. “We agreed to disagree.”

Kevin Ward addresses supporters at a press conference under the Hillcrest Rainbow Flag Photo: Thom Senzee

Kevin Ward addresses supporters at a press conference under the Hillcrest Rainbow Flag
Photo: Thom Senzee

Minutes after Bernal’s press conference with Mayor Faulconer, Chris Ward held a press conference of his own under an oversized LGBT Freedom Flag in San Diego’s historically LGBT Hillcrest neighborhood under which the region’s Pride festival kicks off each year. LGBT Weekly was also at that press conference.

“I’m asking voters as they look at the records and the totality of the circumstances to look at who is supporting me and who is supporting my opponent,” Ward said.

“I’m really proud of the endorsements of people like Sen. Christine Kehoe, City Councilman David Alvarez and Donna Frye and the Sierra Club and many of our hard-working men and women of the City of San Diego. My opponents track record and [endorsements] list is really limited to the Building Industry Association, the Restaurant Association, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and now Mayor Kevin Faulconer.”

Ward reiterated his supporters’ assertions that Bernal has all but sold out to developers and San Diego’s conservative political establishment.

Bernal rejects that accusation and says he will be a council member for all of District 3 if he’s elected.

The 2016 primary will occur June 7. Absentee voting has already begun.

 

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Religious and LGBT advocacy groups applaud federal guidance on Title IX and transgender students http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/13/religious-and-lgbt-advocacy-groups-applaud-federal-guidance-on-title-ix-and-transgender-students/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/13/religious-and-lgbt-advocacy-groups-applaud-federal-guidance-on-title-ix-and-transgender-students/#respond Fri, 13 May 2016 18:12:29 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70528

Today, the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the United States Department of Justice issued guidance on Title IX and the right of transgender students to attend school free from discrimination based on sex.

The guidance affirms that schools, colleges, and universities must provide transgender students with a safe and supportive environment and must:

  • Provide transgender students access to all of the school’s programs, activities, and facilities (i.e. restrooms, locker rooms, housing, and athletics) based on the student’s gender identity;
  • Refer to transgender students by their chosen name and pronouns, even if the student has not obtained a court-ordered name or gender marker change;
  • Implement safeguards to ensure that a transgender student’s gender identity remain private; and
  • Respond appropriately to reports of harassment of transgender students.

“This is the boldest stance the federal government could take to support transgender students,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) Transgender Youth Project Staff Attorney Asaf Orr. “This guidance could not be clearer—schools must treat transgender students with dignity and respect, providing them equal opportunities to succeed and thrive as they would any other student.  We applaud this historic step, which sends the strongest possible message to transgender students and their families that they are valuable, equal, and welcome members of our national community.  We look forward to working with the federal government and others to ensure this guidance is being implemented in school districts across the United States.”

The Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus today applauded the Obama Administration and the U.S. Department of Education issuing the following statement, “On behalf of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus I want to thank President Obama, Secretary King and the entire Department of Education for this historic guidance,” said LGBT Equality Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA).  “As a former school teacher, I know firsthand that when students feel unwelcome or face discrimination at their school, their ability to learn and grow is diminished.  Transgender students deserve to have their identities respected.  This guidance will help ensure that transgender students are safe in their schools facilities.  They will be able to focus on what’s really important: getting an education.”

Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president and director of policy at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said,  “The Obama administration has demonstrated once again that executive authority can be a powerful tool to fight discrimination in the face of hostile and intransigent opposition.

“Today’s announcement sends a clear signal to the country that it is immoral to demonize and discriminate against transgender students and the LGBT community. Transgender students are routinely subject to violence, homelessness, and discrimination when they have the bravery to live their lives honestly and openly. These are the students we should lift up as role models, not demonize for political purposes.

“This is the administration that made this country safer for DREAMERs and their families; commuted the inhumane and unjust sentences of hundreds of Americans; banned the box for several agencies; and protected women and LGBT employees of federal contractors. Even as a hostile Congress has done everything in its power to stop the advance of progress, this administration has found a way to bend the arc toward justice.

“We still have a long way to go toward building a nation that’s as good as its ideals, but today’s announcement brings us one step closer.”

Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism Director Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner stated,  “We commend the Obama administration’s instruction to all public schools to ensure transgender students access to restrooms, educational programs and activities consistent with their gender identity. The historic letter and guidance from the Departments of Education and Justice are much-needed steps toward greater inclusion and equality for transgender and gender-nonconforming people in our society.

“In communities nationwide, transgender and gender non-conforming individuals are significantly more likely to experience discrimination and harassment. Students can be especially vulnerable. This is sadly even more true in the wake of the false narrative around bathroom safety that has been propagated throughout our society, especially following the passage of harmful and discriminatory legislation in certain states.

“As a leader of the Reform Jewish Movement, I am proud that our community has spoken clearly in support of the civil rights and full inclusion – including within our congregations, camps and communities – of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. Jewish tradition teaches that all human beings are created b’tzelem Elohim, in the Divine Image. The stamp of the Divine is present in each and every one of us, and discrimination against any individual because of their gender identity directly violates this value.

“We urge all public schools to swiftly and fully comply with this directive so that transgender and gender non-conforming individuals are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

OCR first addressed the application of Title IX to a transgender student in Student v. Arcadia Unified School District, a complaint filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights. That complaint alleged that the school district discriminated against a transgender student by denying him access to the boys’ facilities and refusing to allow him to room with his male peers on an overnight field trip. The Department of Education and the United States Department of Justice negotiated an historic resolution agreement requiring the school district to treat the transgender student as male for all purposes. Since that resolution agreement, the Department of Education has reached similar resolutions to protect transgender students in several other cases and has repeatedly affirmed that.

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HRC: Donald Trump’s ‘States’ Rights’ policy assertion on transgender students dangerous, reckless http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/13/hrc-donald-trumps-states-rights-policy-assertion-on-transgender-students-dangerous-reckless/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/13/hrc-donald-trumps-states-rights-policy-assertion-on-transgender-students-dangerous-reckless/#respond Fri, 13 May 2016 17:51:11 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70520
Donald Trump

Donald Trump

WASHINGTON– Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released the following statement after Donald Trump declined this morning to support the Obama Administration’s important announcement that school districts should ensure that transgender students are treated with dignity and allowed equal access to facilities, such as restrooms, consistent with their gender identity.

“Trump’s reckless anti-LGBT suggestion is to turn the clock back decades,” said HRC Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof. “Donald Trump’s dangerous bluster would allow governors to bully transgender students and should be deeply alarming to the majority of Americans who support LGBT equality. Here’s the reality, Mr. Trump. Teachers and schools are asking for the federal government’s help because politicians like you and Governor Pat McCrory are putting transgender students at risk. Transgender youth face a heightened risk for bullying, harassment and violence, which is exactly why it is inexcusable that anyone running for president would try to take a pass on protecting all students.

“Hillary Clinton is fighting to advance LGBT equality and for the safety and well-being of all children for decades. Let’s be abundantly clear, she is the candidate who will ensure we not only keep all the gains we’ve made but we continue to progress on the road to equality.”

Trump remains dangerously out of step with the majority of fair-minded Americans who believe that LGBT people should be treated equally under the law. Trump has not only promised to use the Supreme Court to roll back nationwide marriage equality, but he’s supported a bill that would lead to more Kim Davis-style discrimination, and said that he would allow states like North Carolina violate federal civil rights laws.

A survey by the HRC Foundation found that three-quarters of transgender students feel unsafe in school settings. A report by the Williams Institute found that half of transgender adults who were bullied in school had attempted suicide. These startling numbers can only be expected to rise if the North Carolina law, and other similar bills proposed in other states, continue to target these young people.

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Massachusetts Senate approves measure extending crucial protections to transgender community http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/12/massachusetts-senate-approves-measure-extending-crucial-protections-to-transgender-community/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/12/massachusetts-senate-approves-measure-extending-crucial-protections-to-transgender-community/#respond Thu, 12 May 2016 19:53:44 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70511

The Massachusetts State Senate has voted to extend commonsense non-discrimination protections to the state’s transgender residents and visitors. While Massachusetts state law already prohibits anti-transgender discrimination in housing and employment, the new legislation will extend the same crucial protections to public accommodations.

Following expected approval by the Massachusetts House of Representatives, the bill will head to the desk of Republican Governor Charlie Baker who has not indicated whether he will sign the bill. In recent weeks Baker has made positive statements in support non-discrimination laws for the transgender community.

“We commend the Massachusetts Senate under the leadership of Senate President Stan Rosenberg for choosing to lead by embracing acceptance, respect and dignity for all at this pivotal moment for transgender equality in America,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC senior vice president for Policy and Political Affairs. “While North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has legislated hate by signing the vile HB2 into law, governors from Georgia and South Dakota have joined the growing list of fair-minded Republicans standing up for fairness and equality. Poll after poll shows that the majority of Americans– on both sides of the aisle– know that discriminating against the LGBT community is wholly unacceptable.”

“We look forward to continued equality momentum in Massachusetts with a positive vote in the House, and we urge Governor Baker to sign this vitally important measure into law when it reaches to his desk,” Winterhof said.

If  Baker signs the bill, Massachusetts will join 18 other states and more than 100 cities that have explicit non-discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in public accommodations, housing and employment.

The bill has overwhelming support throughout the state and the region. Several New England  professional sports teams and Massachusetts education groups have endorsed it, along with U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, Attorney General Maura Healey, and the Boston Globe’s editorial board.

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Equality California to honor LGBT families at San Diego Equality Awards http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/11/equality-california-to-honor-lgbt-families-at-san-diego-equality-awards/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/11/equality-california-to-honor-lgbt-families-at-san-diego-equality-awards/#respond Wed, 11 May 2016 18:12:52 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70404

EQCA AwardsSAN DIEGO – Equality California will celebrate LGBT families at its annual San Diego Equality Awards Friday, June 17. Receiving Equality Awards for their leadership, courage and service to the LGBT community will be transgender teen Zoey Luna, her mother Ofelia Barba and her sister Letty Barba; Naval Base Coronado’s 2016 Military Spouse of the Year Brian Alvarado and his husband, BM1(SW) Matthew Alvarado; and gay fathers and civic leaders Robert Gleason and his husband Marc Matys.

“Opponents of LGBT equality are not able to successfully portray our community as a threat to the nation’s family values in part because of the leadership and courage of the LGBT families that Equality California is honoring this year,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California.  “Merely by living their lives openly and bravely, each has helped create a better California for LGBT youth, for LGBT parents and their children, for same-sex spouses and for everyone else who believes in fairness and equality.”

Zoey Luna, her mother, Ofelia Barba, and her sister, Letty Barba, will receive this year’s State Farm Good Neighbor Award for their courageous advocacy on behalf of transgender children in California schools and for all transgender families. Zoey was born male but always identified as a girl.  By age 10, she faced harassment at school from both students and teachers and was denied access to girls’ restrooms and locker rooms.  Her testimony, together with that of her mother, Ofelia, was instrumental in the passage of the Equality California-sponsored School Success and Opportunity Act in 2013, which allows transgender students to use school facilities and participate in programs corresponding with their gender identity.  Zoey, Ofelia and Letty have traveled statewide advocating for transgender equality and educating the public on the challenges facing transgender people every day, and are serving as spokespeople for the groundbreaking Transform California public education campaign.

Brian and BM1(SW) Matthew Alvarado will receive this year’s Equality Vanguard Award for shattering stereotypes and blazing trails as one of the country’s most prominent LGBT military couples.  Brian is the first same-sex spouse ever to win a “Military Spouse of the Year Award” from Naval Base Coronado. While the couple was wary at first about being open on base, Brian quickly became involved in the base’s Family Readiness Group, transforming it from what he says was largely a social club into an organization that provides real support for military families.  He has helped Navy personnel buy homes through the VA loan program and has helped veterans find employment.

The Matys-Gleason family is receiving an Equality Leadership Award for Robert Gleason and Marc Matys’ visibility as gay fathers of two dynamic young children, their commitment to letting their sons live authentic lives, and their extensive involvement in San Diego’s business and philanthropic communities. Gleason was instrumental in the formation of the San Diego LGBT Community Leadership Council, representing more than 40 LGBT and allied organizations, and led the group for eight years. It was formed to support and enhance San Diego’s LGBT community through collaboration and coordination. In addition, Gleason currently serves as a Director of the Los Angeles Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, chair of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, and a Trustee of the Francis Parker School. He previously served as chair of the San Diego LGBT Community Center and the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, vice-chair of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and the Old Globe, and on the boards of various other arts and community organizations. Matys, in addition to his primary role as a homemaker, has been a singing member of the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus for nearly 20 years.

Each year, Equality California recognizes individuals and organizations who have made an impact on the movement to secure full and lasting equality for LGBT people at its annual Equality Awards — a series of formal events held in San Francisco, San Diego, Palm Springs, Los Angeles and Sacramento.

This year’s San Diego Equality Awards will take place on Friday, June 17 from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm at the Prado at Balboa Park, located at 1549 El Prado, San Diego. Individual tickets are $250.

The 2016 Equality Awards are sponsored by AT&T, Gilead, La Crema, PG&E, Prophet, Sempra Energy, Southwest Airlines, and State Farm Insurance. For more information about the Equality Awards visit, www.eqcaawards.com. For tickets or sponsorship information, contact Scott Gizicki at scott@eqca.org or at 323-848-9801.

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New report: Bullying Is a ‘Serious Public Health Problem’ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/10/new-report-bullying-is-a-serious-public-health-problem/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/10/new-report-bullying-is-a-serious-public-health-problem/#respond Tue, 10 May 2016 21:41:00 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70394

Preventing BullyingWASHINGTON – Bullying is a serious public health problem, with significant short- and long-term psychological consequences for both the targets and perpetrators of such behavior, and requires a commitment to developing preventive and interventional policies and practices that could make a tangible difference in the lives of many children, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

The programs that appear most effective are those that promote a positive school environment and combine social and emotional skill-building for all students, with targeted interventions for those at greatest risk for being involved in bullying.  There is emerging research that widely used zero-tolerance policies — those that impose automatic suspension or expulsion of students from school after one bullying incident — are not effective at curbing bullying or making schools safer and should be discontinued.  Instead, resources should be directed to evidence-based policies and programs for bullying prevention in the United States.

Until recently, most bullying typically occurred at school or other places where children play or congregate, but an abundance of new technologies has led to cyberbullying, through chat rooms, social media, and other forms of digital communication.  Although it is difficult to determine the extent of bullying due to definitional and measurement inconsistencies, bullying likely affects between 18 percent and 31 percent of children and youth, and the prevalence of cyberbullying ranges from 7 percent to 15 percent. Estimates are even higher for subgroups who are particularly vulnerable, such as individuals who have disabilities, are obese, or are LGBT.  In addition, children with fewer same-ethnicity peers at school appear to be at greater risk for being targets of bullying.

Adolescents who are bullied experience a range of physical problems, including sleep disturbances, gastrointestinal concerns, and headaches.  Although the full consequences of bullying on the brain are not yet understood entirely, there are changes in the stress response systems associated with being bullied that increase the risk of mental health problems, including cognitive function and self-regulation of emotions.  Being bullied during childhood and adolescence has been linked to psychological effects such as depression, anxiety, and alcohol and drug abuse into adulthood.

Youth who bully others are more likely to be depressed, engage in high-risk activities such as theft and vandalism, and have adverse outcomes later in life compared with those who do not bully, the report says.  In addition, individuals who bully others and are themselves bullied appear to be at greatest risk for poor psychological and social outcomes.  Children involved in bullying as perpetrators, targets, or both are also significantly more likely to contemplate or attempt suicide.  However, there is not enough evidence to conclude that bullying is a causal factor in youth suicides.  The committee that conducted the study and wrote the report also examined the relationship between bullying and school shootings, concluding that the data are unclear on the role of bullying as a precipitating cause of these shootings.

Zero-tolerance policies may lead to underreporting of bullying incidents because the consequence is perceived as too harsh, the committee found.  The effects of school-based programs that involve all students regardless of their risk for bullying or being bullied — such as counselors or teachers presenting strategies for responding to bullying — appear to be relatively modest.  Multi-component programs that combine elements of these programs along with more targeted interventions for youth at risk of bullying or being bullied — for example, teaching more intensive social-emotional skills or de-escalation approaches — appear to be most effective at reducing bullying.

Families play a critical role in bullying prevention by providing emotional support to encourage disclosure of bullying incidents and by fostering coping skills in their children, the report says.  However, the role of peers in bullying prevention as bystanders and as intervention program leaders needs further research to determine the extent to which peer-led programs are effective.

Laws and policies have the potential to strengthen state and local efforts to prevent, identify, and respond to bullying, the report says.  Over the past 15 years, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have adopted or revised laws to address bullying, and all except Alaska include cyberbullying in their statutes.  The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, the state attorneys general, and local education agencies should partner with researchers to collect data on an ongoing basis on the efficacy and implementation of anti-bullying laws and policies, in order to guide legislators who may amend existing laws or create new ones.

Given the varying use of the terms “bullying” and “peer victimization” in research and practice, for this report, the committee used the current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention definition: Bullying is any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated, and bullying may inflict harm or distress on the targeted youth including physical, psychological, social, or educational harm.  The departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Justice, Agriculture, and Defense, and the Federal Trade Commission, which are engaged in the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention (FPBP) interagency group, should foster use of a consistent definition of bullying, the report says.

The committee also recommended federal agencies work with relevant stakeholders to sponsor the development, implementation, and evaluation of evidence-based programs to address bullying behavior and bullying prevention training for professionals and volunteers who work directly with children and adolescents on a regular basis.  In addition, social media companies should partner with the FPBP Steering Committee to adopt, implement, and evaluate on an ongoing basis policies and programs for preventing, identifying, and responding to bullying on their platforms and should publish their anti-bullying policies on their websites.

The agencies engaged in the FPBP interagency group should gather longitudinal surveillance data on the prevalence of all forms of bullying, including physical, verbal, relational, property, cyber, and bias-based bullying, and the numbers of individuals involved in bullying, including targets, perpetrators, and bystanders, in order to have more uniform and accurate estimates of prevalence.

“Bullying has long been tolerated as a rite of passage among children and adolescents, but it has lasting negative consequences and cannot simply be ignored,” said committee chair Frederick Rivara, Seattle Children’s Hospital Guild Endowed Chair in Pediatric Research and professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at the University of Washington. “This is a pivotal time for bullying prevention, and while there is not a quick fix or one-size-fits-all solution, the evidence clearly supports preventive and interventional policy and practice.”

The study was sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Highmark Foundation, National Institute of Justice of the U.S. Department of Justice, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Semi J. and Ruth W. Begun Foundation, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine.  The Academies operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln.  For more information, visit national-academies.org.

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Department of Justice sues North Carolina over anti-LGBT HB 2 http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/09/department-of-justice-sues-north-carolina-over-anti-lgbt-hb-2/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/09/department-of-justice-sues-north-carolina-over-anti-lgbt-hb-2/#respond Mon, 09 May 2016 21:36:44 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70369
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch | Photo Wikimedia Commons

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch | Photo Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Department of Justice today filed a lawsuit against North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, the state’s Department of Public Safety and the University of North Carolina and Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina. The U.S. Department of Justice also requested the judge prohibit the state from enforcing HB2 in regards to discriminating against transgender people.

The Justice Department said in the lawsuit that the so-called “bathroom bill” “stigmatizes and singles out transgender employees, results in their isolation and exclusion, and perpetuates a sense that they are not worthy of equal treatment and respect,” reported the Huffington Post.

A person’s external genitals, the feds said, are “but one component of sex and not always determinative of a person’s sex.”

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the lawsuit “is about a great deal more than just bathrooms” and affects the “dignity and respect we accord our fellow citizens.”

“This is not the first time that we have seen discriminatory responses to historic moments of progress for our nation,” Lynch said. “We saw it in the Jim Crow laws that followed the Emancipation Proclamation. We saw it in fierce and widespread resistance to Brown v. Board of Education. And we saw it in the proliferation of state bans on same-sex unions intended to stifle any hope that gay and lesbian Americans might one day be afforded the right to marry.”

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Equality NC issued the following statements:

“The U.S. Department of Justice has made clear that Governor McCrory’s HB2 is a discriminatory and dangerous piece of legislation that violates federal civil rights laws,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Rather than working with state lawmakers to fix the mess he’s created, Governor McCrory is instead choosing to waste even more time and millions more of taxpayer dollars trying to defend his indefensible attack on transgender people. We commend Attorney General Lynch and the Justice Department for taking action to enforce the rule of law and protect the civil rights of all North Carolinians.”

“The lawsuit filed by Governor McCrory is another attempt to sidestep the inevitable need for a full repeal of HB2,” said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro. “North Carolina’s image, economy, and citizens are hurting because of the deeply discriminatory bill. Governor McCrory and the NCGA leadership are risking billions of dollars in federal funding to uphold a law that should have never been passed in the first place. We applaud Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the U.S. Department of Justice for standing up for North Carolinians when its own leadership has failed to do so.”

The U.S. Department of Justice put Gov. McCrory and state officials on notice last week saying North Carolina’s discriminatory HB2 violates federal civil rights law — including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 — and gave them until today to address the situation “by confirming that the State will not comply with or implement HB2.” In response, Gov. McCrory announced today that he is filing a lawsuit in an attempt to recklessly defend his discriminatory law. Sen. Berger and Speaker Moore also filed a lawsuit.

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NC Gov. McCrory responds to DOJ with lawsuit http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/09/nc-gov-mccrory-responds-to-doj-with-lawsuit/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/09/nc-gov-mccrory-responds-to-doj-with-lawsuit/#comments Mon, 09 May 2016 19:09:08 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70366

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory is suing the federal government in response to the U.S. Department of Justice’s determination that North Carolina’s discriminatory HB 2 violates federal civil rights law, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972.

“The Obama administration is bypassing Congress by attempting to rewrite the law and set restroom policies for public and private employers across the country, not just North Carolina. This is now a national issue that applies to every state and it needs to be resolved at the federal level,” said Gov. McCrory. “They are now telling every government agency and every company that employs more than 15 people that men should be allowed to use a women’s locker room, restroom or shower facility.”

HB 2 has eliminated existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and prevents such protections from being passed by cities in the future. The legislation also forces transgender students in public schools to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity, putting 4.5 billion dollars in federal education funding at risk. It also compels the same type of discrimination against transgender people to take place in publicly-owned buildings, including in public universities, convention centers, and airports. It also eliminated the ability of North Carolinians to be able to sue if they experienced discrimination in the workforce, including on the basis of race, religion, national origin and sex.

Today, the Human Rights Campaign and Equality NC issued the following statements in response to the news that Governor Pat McCrory has filed a lawsuit defending his deeply discriminatory HB2.

“North Carolina’s HB2 law is blatantly unconstitutional and violates federal civil rights law,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “The Department of Justice has already been clear that it violates the civil rights of North Carolinians. The idea Governor McCrory is going to waste even more time and millions more taxpayer dollars defending it is reckless and wrong. HB2 is a vile law attacking transgender North Carolinians and leaves many more unprotected from discrimination. Rather than defending it, Governor McCrory should be working with state lawmakers to fix the mess he’s created.”doj

“The lawsuit that was filed today is just another tactic to delay a decision and is a continued waste of taxpayer dollars when it is already very clear that the only option is a full repeal of HB2,” said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro. “The 4th circuit court has already provided guidance on this and continued litigation by the state is simply wasteful. The state house and senate must fully repeal HB2 with Governor McCrory’s leadership.”

North Carolina has already lost more than a half billion dollars – and counting – in economic activity just from companies canceling or reconsidering plans to come to the state, and in cancelled conventions, concerts, and other lost tourism dollars. That doesn’t even include potential economic development that now just won’t happen in North Carolina because of HB2’s discriminatory provisions, or the potential catastrophic loss of federal funding for schools, roads, bridges, and other essential services.

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EJAF and HRC announce inaugural HIV 360° Fellowship Program (VIDEO) http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/05/ejaf-and-hrc-announce-inaugural-hiv-360-fellowship-program-video/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/05/ejaf-and-hrc-announce-inaugural-hiv-360-fellowship-program-video/#respond Thu, 05 May 2016 16:47:38 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70291

NEW YORK –As part of the Elton John AIDS Foundation’s (EJAF) strategy to strengthen the resilience of the HIV/AIDS movement and to support initiatives that empower community-based leaders from diverse backgrounds, EJAF has joined the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) in announcing the inaugural HIV 360° Fellowship Program. Ten outstanding young leaders will receive nine months of intensive leadership training to elevate their advocacy work in communities that continue to be deeply impacted by the epidemic.

“At EJAF, we believe collaborative, unified efforts like the HIV 360° Fellowship Program are critical to stopping the spread of HIV within communities that continue to be hit the hardest by the epidemic,” said Scott Campbell, Executive Director of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.  “We are very proud to be the primary funder for this groundbreaking program that is specifically focused on cultivating young leaders from diverse backgrounds with different ideas about how to stop the spread and stigma of HIV.”

EJAF provided two grants totaling $600,000 to HRC in 2014 and 2015 to support their work addressing HIV/AIDS in the LGBTQ community. The 2015 grant helped to launch the HIV 360° Fellowship Program<http://www.hrc.org/hrc-story/hiv-360-fellowship-program> and continued to support HRC’s efforts to increase awareness of HIV prevention, treatment, and care among LGBTQ people, specifically focusing on young gay and bisexual men and transgender women. The 10 fellows selected for the HIV 360° Fellowship Program’s inaugural class are all under age 35 and are currently undertaking leadership roles in community-focused organizations and initiatives across two dozen states.

The inaugural HIV 360° fellows are:

  • Andrés Cano, National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, Tucson, AZ
  • Thomas Davis, Health Education Specialist, LA LGBT Center, Los Angeles, CA
  • Nicole Elinoff, Director of Clinical Services, The GLBT Center of Central Florida, Orlando, FL
  • Mardrequs Harris, Public Health Program Director, Tennessee Department of Health, Memphis, TN
  • Sasanka Jinadasa, Capacity Building and Community Resource Manager, HIPS, Washington, DC
  • Tyrell Manning, Regional Integration Specialist, Williams and Associates, Inc., St. Louis, MO
  • Pierre Jamar (PJ) Moton, Interim Clinical Program Manager, Abounding Propensity, Inc., Dallas, TX
  • Steven Romeo, Executive Director, The Change Project, Birmingham, AL
  • Milan Sherry, Advisory Board Member, Positively Trans, New Orleans, LA
  • Lee Storrow, Executive Director, North Carolina AIDS Action Network, Raleigh, NC

“Despite all our progress, HIV continues to ravage the LGBTQ community, with homophobia and transphobia fueling the stigma that keeps far too many away from testing, prevention, and treatment programs,” said Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign. “These diverse leaders already have tremendous experience in their respective fields and communities, and we look forward to working with them to halt the spread and stigma of HIV once and for all.”

This HIV 360° Fellowship Program recently held its first retreat at HRC’s Washington, DC, headquarters. The fellows met with experts from amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, AIDS United, Casa Ruby, NAESM Inc., Whitman-Walker Health, and the Kaiser Family Foundation.  By learning from each other and from mentors and experts participating in the program, these fellows will deepen their skills in nonprofit management, leadership, finance, and strategy, discover new marketing techniques, develop contacts and collaborative relationships with other organizations, and learn new ways to enhance the resilience and sustainability of their community organizations.

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House LGBT Caucus applauds Dept. of Justice for recognizing transgender discrimination is civil rights violation http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/05/house-lgbt-caucus-applauds-dept-of-justice-for-recognizing-transgender-discrimination-is-civil-rights-violation/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/05/house-lgbt-caucus-applauds-dept-of-justice-for-recognizing-transgender-discrimination-is-civil-rights-violation/#respond Thu, 05 May 2016 16:22:59 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70281

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus applauded the Department of Justice for announcing that North Carolina’s anti-LGBT law violates civil rights laws and cannot be enforced.  The Caucus whose mission it is to promote lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality issued the following statement.

Jared Polis

Jared Polis

“The Department of Justice’s statement makes it clear that when states pass laws that violate people’s basic civil rights, they will face severe consequences,” said LGBT Equality Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Jared Polis (CO-02).  “North Carolina’s law is intrusive, divisive, and it’s completely out of step with American values.  On behalf of the LGBT Equality Caucus, I commend the DOJ for standing up for what we’ve always known: Discrimination hurts our country and there is no place for it here.”

The bi-partisan LGBT Equality Caucus is strongly committed to achieving the full enjoyment of human rights for LGBT people in the U.S. and around the world. By serving as a resource for Members of Congress, their staff, and the public on LGBT issues, the Caucus works toward the extension of equal rights, the repeal of discriminatory laws, the elimination of hate-motivated violence, and the improved health and well-being for all regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

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U.S. Justice Department says HB2 violates federal law, gives Gov. McCrory Monday deadline http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/04/u-s-justice-department-says-hb2-violates-federal-law-gives-gov-mccrory-monday-deadline/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/04/u-s-justice-department-says-hb2-violates-federal-law-gives-gov-mccrory-monday-deadline/#respond Wed, 04 May 2016 22:09:58 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70265

The U.S. Department of Justice has determined North Carolina’s discriminatory HB 2 violates federal civil rights law, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972.  As reported by the Charlotte Observer, “The department gave state officials until Monday to address the situation ‘by confirming that the State will not comply with or implement HB 2.’”

The letter lays out the Department of Justice’s determination that HB 2 puts Governor McCrory and the state government in violation of federal employment law (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) should the state comply with its recently enacted law.  The letter also states that public schools and universities that comply are in violation of federal education law (Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972).  If the state insists on implementing HB 2, it is now on notice that it risks a lawsuit by the Department of Justice. Further, for universities this puts 4.5 billion dollars in federal education funding at risk and endangers other federal funding streams as well.

“HB 2 is a discriminatory, dangerous piece of legislation and today the Department of Justice confirmed that it violates federal civil rights law,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “We commend the Justice Department for enforcing the rule of law and protecting the rights of North Carolinians. We once again urge Governor McCrory and the state of North Carolina to immediately do the same and fully repeal this harmful bill.”

“The letter confirms what we’ve already known – that HB2 is deeply discriminatory, violates federal civil rights law, and needs to be repealed as soon as possible,” said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro. “We’ve already lost $500 million in economic impact and now we are violating federal civil rights law and risking Title IX funding. This is a travesty and embarrassment for North Carolina. There is a repeal bill filed in the House, and it should be considered immediately.”

HB 2 forces transgender students in public schools to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity, which is a clear violation of Title IX’s protections from discrimination on the basis of sex.  Both the U.S. Department of Education and a recent Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Case reiterate that Title IX’s protections from discrimination on the basis of sex require schools to provide transgender students access to facilities in accordance with their gender identity.

HB 2 required – and Governor McCrory’s recent Executive Order confirmed – that transgender state and municipal employees would be denied access to restroom and other facilities consistent with their gender identity.  Private employers who lease publicly-owned property would also be forced to discriminate in the provision of restrooms.  These provisions are in clear conflict with Title VII’s requirement that employees not be subject to discrimination on the basis of their sex, which has been interpreted by the EEOC and multiple federal courts to include discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.

HB 2 also eliminated existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and prevents such protections from being passed by cities in the future.  Further, it revoked the ability to sue under state employment non-discrimination law on the basis of any protected characteristic, including race, religion, national origin, and sex.

Gov. McCrory and state lawmakers are under increasingly intense pressure to repeal HB2. Nearly 200 leading CEOs and business leaders have urged Gov. McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly to repeal the deeply discriminatory law that’s bad for business and bad for North Carolina. Mayors and governors across the country are banning travel to the state, musicians are cancelling concerts, and the New York Times editorial board called North Carolina a “pioneer in bigotry.” The NBA has threatened next year’s All-Star Game in Charlotte, NASCAR has spoken about its opposition publicly, and the NCAA has said it won’t schedule events – including the Final Four – in cities that don’t have fully-inclusive non-discrimination laws. Major film studios and corporations, from PayPal to Deutsche Bank, have stopped investments in the state because of the new law. The United Kingdom’s Foreign Office has even warned its LGBT citizens of the risks of traveling to North Carolina.

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Oxford Ala. City Council votes to repeal anti-transgender ordinance http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/04/oxford-ala-city-council-votes-to-repeal-anti-transgender-ordinance/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/04/oxford-ala-city-council-votes-to-repeal-anti-transgender-ordinance/#respond Wed, 04 May 2016 21:59:02 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70261

MONTGOMERY Ala. – At a special meeting earlier today, the Oxford, Ala, City Council voted 3-2  to repeal a discriminatory new ordinance that would have prevented transgender residents and visitors from using public restroom facilities consistent with their gender identity. This anti-transgender law was unprecedented in its establishment of criminal penalties for violations — including a $500 fine or 6 months in jail — and raised a myriad of privacy and legal concerns regarding how the law would have been enforced. The council’s action came during a 10-day recall window; the ordinance had not yet been signed by the mayor.

Oxford’s ordinance was unprecedented in that it enumerated criminal penalties, including the potential for jail time, for violations. It also applied to bathrooms and locker rooms citywide, including in private businesses, which went further than similar provision in North Carolina’s law which applies to government buildings and schools.

“It’s a great day in the state of Alabama and we commend Councilperson Charlotte Hubbard for leading the recall effort,” said HRC Alabama State Director Eva Walton Kendrick. “This sends a welcome message of inclusion to Oxford’s families, businesses and visitors, and sets an example for other communities that may be considering similar legislation. Fair-minded Americans do not believe in discrimination, and we must continue to educate one another on the importance of being inclusive and welcoming to all. ”

The Oxford City Council’s decision to recall the ordinance comes as similar proposals are being rejected at the state and local level across the country. On Monday, the City Council of Rockwall, Texas, unanimously rejected a bill proposed by Mayor Jim Pruitt that would have prohibited transgender people from using restrooms consistent with their gender identities. Scores of community members also came to speak out against that proposal.

At the state level, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard earlier this year vetoed legislation that limited restroom use for transgender children in public schools, and last month, the sponsor of a similar bill in Tennessee announced plans to pull the legislation from consideration this legislative session. With its passage of the anti-transgender HB2, North Carolina became the first state to enact this type of legislation. The state is facing a federal court challenge and fierce backlash, and today the U.S. Department of Justice notified Gov. Pat McCrory that the law violates the U.S. Civil Rights Act..

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Republican presidential nomination: And then there was one http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/04/republican-presidential-nomination-and-then-there-was-one/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/04/republican-presidential-nomination-and-then-there-was-one/#respond Wed, 04 May 2016 17:09:17 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70248

John Kasich announced today that he is suspending his presidential nomination campaign. This follows Ted Cruz’s announcement yesterday that he too was suspending his campaign leaving Donald Trump as the only contender for the Republican Party’s shot at the White House.

John Kasich calls himself “the only hope,” in a Tweet announcing the suspension of his campaign for president.

Cruz, widely known for his anti-LGBT stances, told supporters in Indianapolis that he was dropping out “with a heavy heart, but with boundless optimism for the long-term future,” reported The Advocate.

“From the beginning, I’ve said that I would continue on as long as there was a viable path to victory,” Ted Cruz told the crowd. “Tonight, I am sorry to say, it appears that path has been foreclosed.”

“Together, we left it all on the field in Indiana,” he continued. “We gave it everything we got. But the voters chose another path.”

Despite suspending his presidential campaign Cruz vowed he woiuld continue his campaign for conservative causes in the Senate. “I am not suspending our fight for liberty,” he told supporters. “I am not suspending our fight to defend the Constitution, to defend the Judeo-Christian values that built America. … I give you my word that I will continue this fight with all of my strength and all of my ability.”

Trump is now the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party.

 

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International human rights groups launch campaign to support the LGBTI community in Indonesia http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/03/international-human-rights-groups-launch-campaign-to-support-the-lgbti-community-in-indonesia/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/03/international-human-rights-groups-launch-campaign-to-support-the-lgbti-community-in-indonesia/#respond Tue, 03 May 2016 21:54:25 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70217

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – International human rights groups launched a global campaign today to support the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex community in Indonesia. Increasing homophobic and transphobic rhetoric by political and religious leaders has caused growing hostility toward members of the LGBTI community in Indonesia, the world’s fourth largest country by population.

The campaign will benefit the Indonesian human rights network Arus Pelangi, a national federation supporting LGBTI human rights in Indonesia. The organization has responded to the current backlash by launching an emergency assistance program to help the most vulnerable members of the community.  The program includes a temporary safe house for human rights defenders under threat, relocation assistance, a national hotline and other emergency support services.  But current funds for emergency services run out at the end of May.  Funds raised through this campaign will help ensure that the work continues.

The global campaign is led by Alturi, a new non-profit organization based in Los Angeles dedicated to raising attention and support for global LGBTI advocates, and is joined by Human Rights Watch and OutRIght Action International.

“Arus Pelangi has provided a critically important voice for the LGBTI community in Indonesia for more than 10 years,” said Steve Roth, co-founder and director of Alturi.  “And when this current backlash against LGBTI people began they quickly sprang into action.  But this emergency support puts a strain on their resources, so we’re asking Americans and other members of the international community to make a small contribution to help them continue this important work.”

Alturi, Human Rights Watch and OutRight Action International invite members of the international community to contribute to help ensure that Arus Pelangi can provide emergency services to LGBTI Indonesians most in need as result of the hostile, anti-LGBTI rhetoric from government officials.  Funds raised will also support Arus Pelangi’s broader work to ensure the well being of LGBTI Indonesians, including their “You Are Not Alone” awareness campaign and other critical advocacy work.

The campaign can be found at: http://www.alturi.org/indonesia_campaign

Yuli“When urgent needs like these arise, we have to act quickly to help and protect the most vulnerable members our community,” said Yuli Rusinawati, founder and chairperson of Arus Pelangi.  “At the same time, we have to keep advocating strongly for equality and respect for the broader LGBTI community in Indonesia.  We greatly appreciate the support from the international community, which will enable us to keep pushing forward with our work on multiple fronts.”

Established in 2006, Arus Pelangi is a non-profit, member-based federation that works to advance the human rights of LGBTI people in Indonesia through education, public awareness, advocacy and community organizing.

“OutRight partners with Arus Pelangi to change hearts and minds in Indonesia to support long-term change — but right now they need emergency support to keep their community safe and stand tall in the face of mounting opposition,” said Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International.

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GLAAD releases 4th Studio Responsibility Index http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/02/glaad-releases-4th-studio-responsibility-index/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/02/glaad-releases-4th-studio-responsibility-index/#respond Mon, 02 May 2016 18:30:26 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70191

2016 SRI coverNEW YORK, NY – GLAAD today released its fourth annual Studio Responsibility Index (SRI), a report that maps the quantity, quality, and diversity of LGBT people in films released by the seven largest motion picture studios and their subsidiaries during the 2015 calendar year.

GLAAD found that of the 126 releases from major studios in 2015, only 22 of them (17.5%) included characters identified as LGBT. This marks no change from the 17.5% of films in 2014 with LGBT characters. More than three quarters of inclusive films (77%) featured gay male characters, less than a quarter (23%) included lesbian characters, and less than a tenth (9%) included bisexual characters. There was only one trans-inclusive film among all releases by major studios.

“Hollywood’s films lag far behind any other form of media when it comes to portrayals of LGBT characters,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President & CEO. “Too often, the few LGBT characters that make it to the big screen are the target of a punchline or token characters. The film industry must embrace new and inclusive stories if it wants to remain competitive and relevant.”

GLAAD also found that racial diversity among LGBT characters in film dropped drastically year over year. In 2015, 25.5% of LGBT characters were people of color, compared to 32.1% in 2014. Of the LGBT characters counted in 2015, 34 (72.3%) were White, 5 were Latino/a (10.6%), 4 were Black/African American (8.5%), and 3 (6.4%) were Asian/Pacific Islander.

No studios received a rating of “Good” for their 2015 releases. 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate Entertainment, Sony Columbia Pictures, and Universal Pictures all received ratings of “Adequate”, while Paramount Pictures, Walt Disney Studios, and Warner Brothers all received a “Failing” grade for their portrayals of LGBT people. Beginning next year, GLAAD’s SRI will implement a new grading system to more accurately report on LGBT representation in Hollywood. Instead of a four grade system, GLAAD will implement a five star scale from one star (“Failing”) to five stars (“Excellent”).

GLAAD observations and recommendations:

  • The majority of LGBT characters in mainstream films remain minor – both in substance and screen time. Of the 22 LGBT-inclusive films, almost three quarters (73%) of them include less than ten minutes of screen time for LGBT characters. Not only must there be a larger number of LGBT roles, but they must be roles built with substance and purpose.
  • LGBT portrayals on film are overwhelming White (72.3%) and male (77%). Films must do better to include LGBT characters in roles directly tied to the plot which reflect the wide diversity of our community.
  • Transgender representation is shockingly low with only one character in the mainstream releases of 2015 – whose brief appearance served as a punchline to laugh at when her identity is revealed. Filmmakers should examine what message they are really sending when they rely on thoughtless humor to exploit an already marginalized community.
  • 2015 saw a notable resurgence of outright offensive depictions of LGBT people, relying on gay panic and defamatory stereotypes for cheap laughs. Humor can be a powerful tool for holding a mirror up to society and challenging the norm, but when crafted without thought, it has the opposite effect and bolsters ignorance and prejudice.

In 2012, GLAAD introduced the “Vito Russo Test”, a set of criteria analyzing how LGBT characters are represented in a fictional work, in the first SRI and continues to judge films by these simple guidelines. Named after GLAAD co-founder and celebrated film historian Vito Russo, and partly inspired by the “Bechdel Test,” these criteria represent a standard GLAAD would like to see a greater number of mainstream Hollywood films reach in the future.

The Vito Russo Test criteria:

  1. The film contains a character that is identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender (LGBT).
  2. That character must not be solely or predominantly defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity (i.e. the character is comprised of the same sort of unique character traits commonly used to differentiate straight characters from one another).
  3. The LGBT character must be tied into the plot in such a way that their removal would have a significant effect. Meaning they are not there to simply provide colorful commentary, paint urban authenticity, or (perhaps most commonly) set up a punchline. The character should matter.

Only 8 of the 22 (36%) major studio films that featured an LGBT character passed the Vito Russo Test in 2015, the lowest percentage in this study’s history.

In 2015, GLAAD debuted a video titled “Hollywood Must Do Better” that highlighted a bevy of anti-LGBT moments in Hollywood films over the last five years. Additionally, GLAAD’s Where We Are on TV report, which forecasts the expected presence of LGBT characters for the upcoming television, will be issued later this year.

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House Armed Services Committee votes to strip away LGBT non-discrimination protections http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/28/house-armed-services-committee-votes-to-strip-away-lgbt-non-discrimination-protections/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/28/house-armed-services-committee-votes-to-strip-away-lgbt-non-discrimination-protections/#comments Thu, 28 Apr 2016 19:26:00 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70135

WASHINGTON – Today the House Armed Services Committee approved an amendment during the markup of the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Sponsored by anti-LGBT Representative Steve Russell (R-OK), the amendment would dismantle President Obama’s executive order prohibiting discrimination in federal contracting based on sexual orientation or gender identity, under the guise of religious liberty.

“Rep. Russell’s harmful amendment would strip away existing protections for LGBT workers by undermining President Obama’s executive order on LGBT non-discrimination protections in federal contracting,” said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy. “Evidently some House Republicans want to emulate their state legislative colleagues in undermining legal protections for LGBT Americans. House Republican Leadership must get this language out of the bill.”

The Russell amendment was approved by a vote of 33-29 early this morning. It would allow sweeping, taxpayer-funded discrimination in an attempt to promote anti-LGBT religious-based discrimination in the Department of Defense and other federal agencies. With far-reaching intended and unintended consequences, the vague amendment could even undermine existing nondiscrimination provisions that protect workers, and perhaps even beneficiaries, against discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, and more.

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Oxford, Ala. City Council unanimously approves anti-transgender ordinance http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/27/oxford-ala-city-council-unanimously-approves-anti-transgender-ordinance/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/27/oxford-ala-city-council-unanimously-approves-anti-transgender-ordinance/#respond Wed, 27 Apr 2016 18:31:51 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70015

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Today, the Oxford, Ala. City Council unanimously approved an anti-transgender ordinance that prevents transgender residents and visitors from using public restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity, and imposes a $500 fine or six months in jail on violators. This anti-transgender law is unprecedented in its establishment of criminal penalties for violations of the law, and raises a myriad of privacy and legal concerns, including questions about how the law will be enforced. There is no clarity on whether all people in Oxford will be expected to produce birth certificates when using public facilities or, if not, how law enforcement officials will obtain evidence.

“This ordinance is a shameful and vile attack on the rights and privacy of transgender people,” said HRC Alabama State Manager Eva Walton Kendrick. “Transgender people are our neighbors, our coworkers and our fellow churchgoers, and every Alabamian has the right to live their lives without fear of discrimination and prejudice. Throughout the country elected officials from both sides of the aisle, along with hundreds of business leaders and advocates throughout the country have resoundingly rejected these kinds of proposals, which only seek to demean and marginalize the transgender community.”

Despite claims to the contrary by anti-LGBT activists who have preyed on misinformation and ignorance, states with laws protecting transgender people’s access to the appropriate bathroom have seen no increase in public safety incidents. In fact, a coalition of more than 250 sexual assault prevention organizations released a statement last week decrying policies like the one passed in Oxford last night.

Oxford is now the first city in the nation to enact such a law attacking the transgender community, even as similar proposals have been rejected at the state level across the country. South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed legislation that limited restroom use for transgender children in public schools earlier this year, and just last week, the sponsor of a similar bill in Tennessee announced plans to pull the legislation from consideration this legislative session.

With the passage of HB2, North Carolina became the first state to enact this type of legislation and is currently facing a federal court challenge and fierce backlash. Oxford’s ordinance is unprecedented in that it enumerates criminal penalties, including the potential for jail time, for violations. It also applies to bathrooms and locker rooms citywide, including in private businesses, which goes further than the similar provision in North Carolina’s law which applies to government buildings.

In 2014, HRC launched Project One America, an initiative geared towards advancing social, institutional and legal equality in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas. HRC Alabama continues to work to advance equality for LGBT Alabamians who have no statewide protections in housing, workplace, or public accommodations; and legal state recognition for their relationships and families. Through HRC Alabama, we are working toward a future of fairness every day—changing hearts, minds and laws toward achieving full equality.

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Hundreds of thousands call for repeal of North Carolina anti-LGBT law as legislature returns http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/25/hundreds-of-thousands-call-for-repeal-of-north-carolina-anti-lgbt-law-as-legislature-returns/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/25/hundreds-of-thousands-call-for-repeal-of-north-carolina-anti-lgbt-law-as-legislature-returns/#respond Mon, 25 Apr 2016 19:19:48 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69993

RALEIGH, N.C. – Nearly 190,000 signatures demanding the repeal of North Carolina’s anti-LGBT House Bill 2 were delivered to the office of Gov. Pat McCrory today by a collection of civil rights, faith, business, and advocacy groups as the state legislature returns for the first time since it introduced and passed the law limiting legal protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in a one-day special session on March 23. Thousands of people are expected to rally for the discriminatory law’s repeal outside the legislature throughout Monday.

Today’s petition delivery was coordinated by TurnOUT! NC, a joint project of the Human Rights Campaign, the ACLU of North Carolina, the Campaign for Southern Equality, and Equality North Carolina, whose goal is to mobilize and empower LGBT and pro-equality North Carolinians against HB 2.

“For more than a month, Governor McCrory, Senator Berger, and Speaker Moore have sat idly by as HB 2 has cost North Carolina millions, badly damaged their state’s reputation, and inflicted irreparable harm on the people they were elected to serve,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “The catastrophe these leaders have created and the damage they have caused can only begin to be reversed by repealing HB 2 in its entirety and replacing it with commonsense non-discrimination protections for LGBT people. To do anything less would be to continue their streak of gross negligence. The time for leadership is now.”

“It’s time the legislature get to work repairing the damage it has caused with the passage of HB 2,” said Sarah Preston, acting executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina, which is challenging the law in federal court along with the national ACLU and Lambda Legal on behalf of six LGBT North Carolinians. “HB 2 was a reckless attempt to malign and marginalize transgender people, and it is bringing immense harm to our state’s people, economy, and reputation. The General Assembly must work as expeditiously as possible to repeal this terrible law as it worked to pass it.”

“HB2 is a blatant, unconstitutional attack on the transgender community in North Carolina and we call for its immediate repeal. We must come together as a community to organize and support each other to make North Carolina safe for all of its citizens,” said Ivy Hill, LGBT Rights Toolkit Coordinator for the Campaign for Southern Equality.

“House Bill 2 is a deeply discriminatory bill that has put the most vulnerable people of our community at risk. This bill is a mess that Governor McCrory and NCGA leadership have made for us. In a special session – in just 12 hours – they passed a bill without ever meeting the people that are directly impacted by the law – transgender North Carolinians,” said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro. “Over the last month, Business leaders, entertainers, advocates and everyday North Carolinians have mobilized and called for the repeal of HB 2. Senator Berger, Speaker Moore, and Governor McCrory can no longer ignore the havoc the bill has wreaked on the state. The only way to restore North Carolina’s reputation is to repeal all of HB 2 and pass comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that protect all North Carolinians.”

Since Gov. McCrory signed HB 2, a host of high-profile Republicans, including Sen. Mark Kirk, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, have spoken out against HB 2 and similar bills.

More than 180 leading CEOs and business executives of major companies, including Apple, Bank of America, and Marriott International have called for HB 2’s repeal. The law has led Paypal to cancel a major expansion that would have brought more than 400 jobs to North Carolina, and Deutsche Bank to halt plans to add 250 jobs in the state. Major artists, including Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr, and Pearl Jam, have cancelled performances in North Carolina as a result of HB 2, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver said on Thursday that the league will move the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte if the law is not repealed.

In the federal court challenge, Lambda Legal, the ACLU, and the ACLU of North Carolina argue that through HB 2, North Carolina sends a purposeful message that LGBT people are second-class citizens who are undeserving of the privacy, respect, and protections afforded others in the state. The complaint argues that HB 2 is unconstitutional because it violates the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment by discriminating on the basis of sex and sexual orientation and invading the privacy of transgender people. The law also violates Title IX by discriminating against students and school employees on the basis of sex.

The Obama administration is presently considering whether HB 2 makes the state ineligible for billions of dollars in federal aid for schools, highways, and housing. North Carolina receives more than $4.5 billion in federal funding for secondary and post-secondary schools, all of which remains at jeopardy given the state’s policy of systemically violating Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination, including discrimination against transgender students. On April 19, the federal appeals court that has jurisdiction over North Carolina ruled in a separate case that Title IX protects the rights of transgender students to use sex-segregated facilities, such as restrooms, that are consistent with their gender identity.

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Jackson Public School Board unanimously adopts LGBT-inclusive employment policy http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/22/jackson-public-school-board-unanimously-adopts-lgbt-inclusive-employment-policy/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/22/jackson-public-school-board-unanimously-adopts-lgbt-inclusive-employment-policy/#respond Fri, 22 Apr 2016 20:42:52 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69932

JACKSON, Miss. – Today the Jackson Public School Board of Trustees voted unanimously to extend fully-inclusive sexual orientation and gender identity workplace protections to their employees. With almost 30,000 students, the Jackson Public School district is second largest in the state and one of the first in the Mississippi Public School system to grant employment protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) staff members.

“Every Mississippian, no matter who they are or whom they love, has the right to earn an honest living and provide for their families without fear of prejudice and discrimination in the workplace,” said HRC Mississippi State Director Rob Hill. “As state lawmakers roll back the rights of LGBT Mississippians, we commend the Jackson Public School board members for doing what they can to safeguard these necessary protections for all their employees.”

Superintendent Dr. Cedrick Gray shared, “I am proud to announce the Board of Trustees for Jackson Public Schools has revised its policies to reflect that the District shall not discriminate against any individual because of race, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity.”

The Board of Trustees on Tuesday voted 5-0 to approve the updated policy, which goes into effect immediately.

This week’s vote comes as the Mississippi State Legislature is facing fierce backlash for the passage of HB 1523 — a deeply discriminatory law that allows almost any individual or organization to use religion to justify discrimination against a host of Mississippians, including LGBT people, single mothers, unwed couples and others. Major national and local businesses are calling for repeal, and performers like Bryan Adams, and most recently Tracy Morgan, have cancelled shows in the state, while actress Sharon Stone has cancelled a film shoot. ABC’s “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts, who is featured as the welcoming face of the Hospitality State’s official tourism guide, also decried the legislation, as did native Mississippian actress Sela Ward. Earlier this month, nearly 100 prominent writers from the state, including John Grisham and Kathryn Stockett, also signed a letter protesting the discriminatory law.

On Sunday, May 1, HRC Mississippi will join local advocates in a rally calling on Governor Bryant, Lt. Governor Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip A. Gunn to listen to fair-minded Mississippians, and repeal H.B. 1523. The rally will culminate in a march from the Mississippi State Capitol to the Governor’s mansion.

In 2014, HRC launched Project One America, an initiative geared towards advancing social, institutional and legal equality in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas. HRC Mississippi continues to work to advance equality for LGBT Mississippians who have no state level protections in housing, workplace, or public accommodations. Through HRC Mississippi, we are working toward a future of fairness every day—changing hearts, minds and laws toward achieving full equality.

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Artist Prince is dead at 57 http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/21/artist-prince-is-dead-at-57/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/21/artist-prince-is-dead-at-57/#comments Thu, 21 Apr 2016 18:44:49 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69903
Prince

Prince

American singer, songwriter Prince has died; he was 57. He died at his Paisley Park recording studio and home in Chanhassen, Minnesota, near Minneapolis, today after suffering flu-like symptoms for several weeks.

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New report finds LGBT elected officials key to blocking anti-LGBT laws http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/20/new-report-finds-lgbt-elected-officials-key-to-blocking-anti-lgbt-laws/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/20/new-report-finds-lgbt-elected-officials-key-to-blocking-anti-lgbt-laws/#comments Wed, 20 Apr 2016 19:57:03 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69884

VictoryWASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Institute (Victory) released a new research brief titled More Than Represent: LGBT Elected Officials Drive Equality in the States that shows the relationship between the number of openly LGBT public officials a state has and its level of LGBT equality. There is clear evidence that openly LGBT people form relationships with their colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, and change minds about LGBT equality – and votes.

The research overlays the number of openly serving LGBT elected officials in states with the Movement Advancement Project’s State Equality Index, and finds that:

  •       More openly LGBT public officials in a state leads to a greater number of LGBT legal protections.
  •       Nearly 70% of states with 5 or fewer openly LGBT public officials have few if any LGBT legal protections.
  •       About two-thirds of states with 11 or more openly LGBT public officials have complete or near complete        LGBT legal equality.
  •      100 percent of the states with no openly LGBT legislators have few if any LGBT legal protections.

“Our analysis shows convincingly that LGBT representation matters and is a game-changer on school boards, in city councils, and in state legislatures where our equality is still debated each and every day,” said Aisha Moodie-Mills, President & CEO of Victory.

Recent anti-LGBT legislative activity in Georgia, North Carolina, and Mississippi demonstrates the power of having openly elected LGBT officials in state legislatures. There were no openly LGBT state legislators serving in North Carolina or Mississippi when the latest anti-LGBT bills were signed into law. Yet in Georgia, where there are 3 openly LGBT state legislators, the Governor ultimately refused to sign the anti-LGBT legislation into law.

“LGBT elected officials are on the front lines of anti-LGBT policy battles, advocating for equality on behalf of all of us. It is critical that we have more voices at decision-making tables, because it’s clear that when we’re not at the table we’re on the menu,” adds Moodie-Mills.

This research brief is the first from the Victory War Room, Victory’s new campaign and communications engine that will serve as a megaphone to promote the impact of LGBT public officials and discredit opponents of LGBT leadership who aim to thwart equality by spreading false and malicious information about LGBT candidates and political issues.  The Victory War Room is the “place for LGBT politics” and will replace the organization’s long-running Gay Politics Report.

 

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Federal court decision upholds civil rights protections for transgender students http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/20/federal-court-decision-upholds-civil-rights-protections-for-transgender-students/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/20/federal-court-decision-upholds-civil-rights-protections-for-transgender-students/#respond Wed, 20 Apr 2016 19:36:42 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69875

Today the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the U.S. Department of Education’s assertion that federal civil rights laws protect transgender students from discrimination.

In a 2-1 decision, the court affirmed the Department of Education’s interpretation of Title IX of the Education Act of 1972 as protecting transgender students from discrimination, including allowing them to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity. The ruling came in the case of Gavin Grimm, a 16-year-old high school student and transgender teen, whose lawsuit against Virginia’s Gloucester County School District alleges the district violated Title IX by denying him use of  the boy’s restroom.

While today’s ruling guarantees  protections for transgender students in North Carolina, it does not address the other  discriminatory provisions contained in HB2. As a result, HRC continues to call for full repeal of the discriminatory HB2 law, which also prevents transgender youth and adults from using restrooms consistent with their gender identity in all government-owned buildings, including in libraries, major airports, and convention centers. HB2 also eliminated existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and prevents such protections from being passed by cities in the future.  Further, HB 2 revokes the ability to sue under state employment non-discrimination law on the basis of any protected characteristic, including race, religion, national origin, and sex. Lawmakers passed the legislation in a hurried, single-day session, and Governor McCrory quickly signed it into law in the dead of night.

“Today’s historic decision is not only a victory for Gavin, but for all transgender young people who are being targeted by discriminatory actions — including North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory’s anti-transgender HB2 law,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “This ruling not only gives appropriate deference to the Department of Education’s interpretation of Title IX as allowing transgender students to use school restrooms consistent with their gender identity, it also is binding on the state of North Carolina. We therefore expect public schools, including those in North Carolina, to immediately comply, ensuring transgender students full protections under the law, which includes full access to the appropriate facilities.”

The discriminatory law is already facing a legal challenge, and North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said he will refuse to defend it in court.

The ruling comes as a number of states — most recently South Carolina — have introduced legislation attacking transgender students by preventing their access to appropriate restroom and other facilities in schools. Last month, North Carolina became the first state in the country to enact a law attacking transgender students, even after similar proposals were being rejected across the country — including a high-profile veto by the Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota. Just yesterday, the sponsor of a similar bill in Tennessee announced plans to pull the discriminatory legislation from consideration this year, after outcry from tens of thousands of fair-minded Tennesseans;major national child welfare, medical, and education groups; country music stars; and major business leaders. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Attorney General Slatery had also expressed concerns about the state losing millions of dollars in federal funds.

Today’s ruling by the Fourth Circuit affirms that school districts denying transgender students access to bathrooms consistent with their gender identity are in direct violation of Title IX.  That’s true of the Virginia district that has been discriminating against Grimm, and it is true of any school that chooses to comply with HB2 in North Carolina, which is also in the Fourth Circuit.  HB2 subjects schools to massive liability, and it puts an estimated $4.5 billion of federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education at risk, as well as  other funds a school may receive from another federal source.

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This is how North Carolina’s HB2 impacts a 9th Grade transgender boy http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/18/this-is-how-north-carolinas-hb2-impacts-a-9th-grade-transgender-boy/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/18/this-is-how-north-carolinas-hb2-impacts-a-9th-grade-transgender-boy/#comments Mon, 18 Apr 2016 17:24:21 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69829
Skye Thomson

Skye Thomson

A 9th Grade transgender North Carolina boy has written to the N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory about the discriminatory “bathroom bill” he signed into law a couple weeks ago.

The boy, Skye Thomson, writes earnestly about the way the law effects him explaining what it’s like to be a trans kid and again asking the governor to meet with him. Skye spoke at a state Senate hearing (At the 1:03:40 time mark in the video) meeting about the proposed law last month and talked about how he felt bullied by his state legislators. He requested a meeting with the governor before he signed HB2. The meeting was pulled an hour before the governor signed the bill. Read Skye’s letter below:

Dear Governor McCrory:

My name is Skye Thomson. I am 15 years old, I live in Eastern North Carolina, and I am a transgender boy. That means I was born a female and identify as a male.

I was in Raleigh for the debate on House Bill 2 on March 23. I was the only transgender student who got a chance to speak out against HB2, the so called “bathroom bill” that is supposed to keep everyone safe in bathrooms. But it doesn’t keep everyone safe, especially people like me. Imagine yourself in my shoes, being a boy walking into a ladies room. It’s awkward and embarrassing and can actually be dangerous. By putting this law in place you’re putting kids like me in danger.

I’ve dealt with bullying my whole life. And now I feel that my own state lawmakers and governor are bullying me as well. I face daily harassment for being myself, everything from dirty looks to physical assaults. I don’t report them because I know it will just make the other kids bully me more. In schools all over the place transgender kids go through the same thing every day. Because of the constant harassment, I have had more than one transgender friend attempt suicide.

HB2 just gives other students all the more reason to hate us.

After my speech at the HB2 hearing, two people from your staff invited me to a private meeting. They said that you wanted to learn more about the difficulties transgender kids like me face. At the end of our meeting, I asked your staff if I could meet with you in person before you made your decision about HB2. I hoped that if we met you would see that I’m just like any other kid, a kid worth protecting. I wanted to tell you my story, really bad things that have happened to me that I’m not comfortable sharing in this letter and that should never happen to a kid. Your staff said they would try to find a way for us to meet, but we never did. You signed HB2 into law an hour later.

Governor, I would still like to meet with you if at all possible. My friends would like to meet with you too. We think that if you get to know us, you will work on helping to keep us safe in bathrooms and everywhere else we go.

Thank you for your time,

Skye Thomson, 9th Grader

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Additional companies call for repeal of HB 2, despite NC Gov. McCrory’s executive order http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/15/additional-companies-call-for-repeal-of-hb-2-despite-nc-gov-mccrorys-executive-order/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/15/additional-companies-call-for-repeal-of-hb-2-despite-nc-gov-mccrorys-executive-order/#respond Fri, 15 Apr 2016 17:33:41 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69792

WASHINGTON – Today, the Human Rights Campaign and Equality NC announced that executives from the American Express Company, AXA Financial Inc., Bloomberg L.P. ,Capital One, Classical American Homes Preservation Trust, Campbell Soup Company, CohnReznick LLP, CrowdRise, eMaint Enterprises, LLC, Ernst & Young LLP, the Estée Lauder Companies, Inc., John Hancock Financial, Kohler Co., Logitech, Plum Organics, RBC Capital Markets, REI, Strava Inc., The Hartford, Time Warner Cable, United Airlines, Visa Inc. and Williams-Sonoma, Inc. have signed onto an open letter that now includes more than 160 leading CEOs and business leaders urging Governor Pat McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly to repeal the radical provisions in the deeply discriminatory law that was rammed through the legislature on March 23rd. These companies are continuing their support after Governor McCrory announced an executive order that does nothing to fix the discriminatory provisions signed into law through HB 2.

Yesterday, HRC released a new video (above) fact-checking Gov Mccrory’s dangerous rhetoric on HB 2.

While the governor’s executive order extends protections to state workers, it does nothing to fix the vile and discriminatory provisions he signed into law through HB 2. Under HB 2, transgender people are prohibited from using restrooms consistent with their gender identity in public buildings, including the University of North Carolina campus and the Raleigh-Durham Airport. Cities still cannot adopt ordinances to prohibit discrimination against their residents and visitors. And HB 2 still prevents individuals from bringing discrimination suit in state courts.

HRC is invoking the North Carolina Public Records Law to gain access to any communications the Governor, the Executive Branch, or the General Assembly had among each other or with the kind of extreme anti-LGBT special interest groups who often craft and push this language. Specifically, the organizations are demanding that the government release any communications legislators or the Governor or his staff have had with the North Carolina Values Coalition or the Alliance Defending Freedom from the office of Gov. Pat McCrory, Senate leader Phil Berger and Speaker Tim Moore about HB 2. View the letters to the office of Gov. McCrory, Senator Berger and Speaker Moore here.

The copy of the updated letter, which was first made public on Tuesday, March 29th, can be found here and below.

“Governor McCrory’s executive order does nothing more than highlight the actual problems caused by HB 2,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “These businesses understand that discrimination is bad for North Carolina, and will continue to speak out until Governor McCrory and the General Assembly repeal this heinous attack on basic human dignity.”

“North Carolina’s place as a business leader in the South is based on fairness, inclusion, and diversity,” said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro with the original launch of the open letter. “HB 2 does not represent North Carolina values, and it weakens our competitive edge. We are glad to see our business community in the Old North State standing up against discriminatory measures like this. Governor McCrory made a mess of our state last [month], and our businesses are leading the charge to repair our state to a place of fairness.”

Gov. Pat McCrory and state lawmakers are under increasingly intense pressure to repeal the discriminatory law in the upcoming legislative session. Mayors and governors across the country are banning travel to the state, and the New York Times editorial board called North Carolina a “pioneer in bigotry.” Major film studios and corporations, including PayPal and Deutsche Bank, have stopped investments in the state because of the new law. Last week, Bruce Springsteen cancelled a concert in Greensboro to stand in solidarity with LGBT people across North Carolina and the nation.

HB 2 has eliminated existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and prevents such protections from being passed by cities in the future. The legislation also forces transgender students in public schools to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity, putting 4.5 billion dollars in federal funding under Title IX at risk. It also compels the same type of discrimination against transgender people to take place in state buildings, including in public universities. Lawmakers passed the legislation in a hurried, single-day session last month, and Governor McCrory quickly signed it into law in the dead of night.

North Carolina has the unfortunate distinction of becoming the first state in the country to enact a law attacking transgender students, even after similar proposals were rejected across the country this year — including a high-profile veto by the Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota. North Carolina school districts that comply with the law will now be in direct violation of Title IX, subjecting the school districts to massive liability and putting an estimated $4.5 billion of federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education, as well as funding received by schools from other federal agencies, at risk. This section of HB 2 offers costly supposed solutions to non-existent problems, and it forces schools to choose between complying with federal law — plus doing the right thing for their students — or complying with a state law that violates students’ civil rights. Read more about how this bill puts federal funding at risk here.

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Mississippi: More than 60 major CEOs and business leaders demand repeal of H.B. 1523 http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/14/mississippi-more-than-60-major-ceos-and-business-leaders-demand-repeal-of-h-b-1523/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/14/mississippi-more-than-60-major-ceos-and-business-leaders-demand-repeal-of-h-b-1523/#comments Thu, 14 Apr 2016 19:56:57 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69750

WASHINGTON – Today, the Human Rights Campaign announced that more than 60 leading CEOS and business leaders, including executives from Bloomberg LP, CVS Health, Dropbox, Hilton Worldwide and Salesforce have signed onto an open letter calling on Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, and House Speaker Philip A. Gunn to repeal H.B. 1523. H.B. 1523, the so-called “Religious Liberty Accommodations Act,” allows almost any individual or organization to use religion as a justification to discriminate against LGBT Mississippians in some of the most important aspects of their lives, including at work, at school, and in their communities.

“It is unfathomable that in 2016, Mississippi has passed a law that explicitly allows LGBT people to be denied service or discriminated against simply because of who they are and whom they love,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.“That’s why across Mississippi and the nation, business leaders are speaking out against this discriminatory legislation that harms their employees, harms consumers, and harms their businesses. But there’s still time for Mississippi lawmakers to reverse course and do the right thing. We urge Governor Bryant and state lawmakers to lead their state to a better future, leaving the politics of discrimination and prejudice firmly in the past. It’s time for them to listen, stand up for all Mississippians, and work quickly to repeal H.B. 1523.”

Earlier this week, Mississippi State Rep. Jay Hughes and members of the Mississippi House of Representatives announced an effort to suspend regular House rules in order to introduce the “Mississippi Economic and Tourism Recovery Act” — a bill that would overturn H.B. 1523. Two-thirds of House members must vote in favor of suspending the rules to allow a vote on the proposed legislation to repeal H.B. 1523.

In addition to the major corporations signing onto this letter calling for repeal, some of the state’s largest employers, including Nissan Group of North America, Tyson Food Inc, MGM Resorts International, and Toyota, have publicly voiced their opposition to the appalling legislation — joining national corporations such as AT&T, IBM, and MassMutual. Gov. Bryant also ignored the call of the Mississippi Manufacturers Association (MMA) to veto the discriminatory measure. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has joined an effort to get more CEOs to speak publicly against the law, and top executives from Microsoft and IBM have asserted that the law is bad for business.

Additionally, rocker Bryan Adams cancelled a concert scheduled for later this week in Biloxi, MS, and nearly 100 prominent writers from the state, including John Grisham and Kathryn Stockett, signed a letter protesting the discriminatory law. ABC’s “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts, who is featured as the welcoming face of the Hospitality State’s official tourism guide, also decried the legislation saying, “hurts my soul to think of anyone not feeling welcome.” Actress Sharon Stone has also cancelled a film shoot in Mississippi because of the law, and the New York Mississippi Society cancelled their 37th Mississippi Picnic in Central Park.

Under this new law, religion could be used by almost any individual or organization to justify discrimination against LGBT people, single mothers, unwed couples, and others. Tax-payer funded faith-based organizations could: refuse to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples for provision of critical services including emergency shelter; deny children in need of loving homes placement with LGBT families including the child’s own family member; and refuse to sell or rent a for-profit home to an LGBT person — even if the organization receives government funding. It would also give foster families the freedom to subject an LGBTQ child to the dangerous practice of “conversion therapy,” and subject a pregnant unwed girl to abuse, without fear of government intervention or license suspension. It would even allow individuals to refuse to carry out the terms of a state contract for the provision of counseling services to all eligible individuals, including veterans, based on the counselor’s beliefs about LGBT people or single mothers.

Furthermore, schools, employers, and service providers could refuse transgender people access to appropriate sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity — all in direct conflict with the U.S. Department of Justice’s enforcement of federal law. HB 1523 even legalizes Kim Davis-style discrimination by allowing government employees to abdicate their duties and refuse to license or solemnize marriages for LGBT people.

The full letter and list of signatories is below:

Dear Governor Bryant, Lieutenant Governor Reeves & Speaker Gunn:

We write with concerns about legislation signed this week, HB 1523, which would allow individuals, religious organizations and private associations to use religion to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Mississippians in some of the most important aspects of their lives, including at work, at schools, in their family life and more. Put simply, HB 1523 is not a bill that reflects the values of our companies.

We are disappointed to see the legislature and governor’s office pass discriminatory legislation. The business community, by and large, has consistently communicated to lawmakers at every level that such laws are bad for our employees and bad for business. This is not a direction in which states move when they are seeking to provide successful, thriving hubs for business and economic development. We believe that HB 1523 will make it far more challenging for businesses across the state to recruit and retain the nation’s best and brightest workers and attract the most talented students from across the country. It will also diminish the state’s draw as a destination for tourism, new businesses, and economic activity.

Discrimination is wrong, and we believe it has no place in Mississippi or anywhere in our country. As companies that pride ourselves on being inclusive and welcoming to all, we strongly urge you to repeal this bill.

Sincerely,
Laura Alber, President and Chief Executive Officer, Williams-Sonoma, Inc.
Karen Appleton, Senior Vice President, Box
Brandee Barker, Cofounder and Partner, Pramana Collective
Marc Benioff, Chairman and CEO, Salesforce
Chip Bergh, President and Chief Executive Officer, Levi Strauss and Co.
Michael Birch, Founder, The Battery
Lisa Bisaccia, EVP and Chief HR Officer, CVS Health
Steven Boal, CEO, Quotient
Craig Bromley, President, John Hancock Financial
Wes Bush, Chairman, CEO and President of Northrop Grumman
Lloyd Carney, CEO, Brocade Communications Systems, Inc.
Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, Founder and CEO, Joyus
Amy Chang, CEO, Accompany
Alex Constantinople, CEO, The OutCast Agency
Bracken P. Darrell, CEO, Logitech
Chad Dickerson, CEO, Etsy
Alex Dimitrief, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, GE
Sandy Douglas, Executive Vice President and President, Coca-Cola North America, The Coca-Cola Company
Amy Erret, Founder and CEO, Madison-Reed
Jared Fliesler, General Partner, Matrix Partners
Jennifer Fonstad, Cofounder and Managing Partner, Aspect Ventures
Joe Gebbia, Cofounder and CPO, Airbnb
Jason Goldberg, Founder, Pepo
Peter T. Grauer, Chairman, Bloomberg L.P.
Julia Hartz, Cofounder and President, Eventbrite
David Hassell, CEO, 15Five
Robert Hohman, Founder and CEO, Glassdoor
Drew Houston, CEO, Dropbox
Laurene Powell Jobs, Founder and Chair, Emerson Collective
Steve Joyce, President and Chief Executive Officer, Choice Hotels International, Inc.
David Karp, Founder and CEO, Tumblr
Travis Katz, CEO, Gogobot
Brian Krzanich, CEO, Intel
Sarah Leary, Cofounder, Nextdoor
Aileen Lee, Founder and Managing Partner, Cowboy Ventures
Max Levchin, CEO, Affirm, Inc.
Aaron Levie, CEO, Box
Dion Lim, CEO, NextLesson
Andrew N. Liveris, CEO and Chairman of the Board, The Dow Chemical Company
Joe Lonsdale, General Partner, 8VC
Melody McCloskey, Founder, StyleSeat
Ryan McDonough, CFO, Accompany
Dr. Nathan Myhrvold, Founder and CEO, Intellectual Ventures
Christopher J. Nassetta, President & Chief Executive Officer, Hilton Worldwide
Lorrie Norrington, Operating Partner, Lead Edge Capital
Bob Page, Chairman and CEO, Replacements, Ltd.
Sunil Paul, Founding Partner, Spring Ventures
Michelle Peluso, CEO, Gilt
Walter Robb, Co-CEO, Whole Foods Market
Dan Rosensweig, CEO, Chegg Inc.
Kevin Ryan, Founder and Chairman, AlleyCorp
Gary Shapiro, President and CEO, Consumer Technology Association
Tom Sheahan, CEO, Red Oxygen
Ben Stevenson, Data Engineer, Accompany
Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO, Yelp
Christopher J. Swift, Chairman and CEO, The Hartford
Brian Tippens, Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer, Hewlett Packard Enterprise
David Tisch, Managing Partner, BoxGroup
Nirav Tolia, Cofounder and CEO, Nextdoor
Robb Webb, Chief Human Resources Officer, Hyatt Hotels Corporation
Tony West, EVP Government Affairs, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, PepsiCo
Anne Wojcicki, CEO, 23andMe
Robert Wolfe, CEO, CrowdRise
Emanuel Seth Yekutiel, CEO, ESY Strategies
John Zimmer, Cofounder and President, Lyft

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TurnOUT! North Carolina launches town hall series focused on repeal of anti-LGBT H.B. 2 http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/13/turnout-north-carolina-launches-town-hall-series-focused-on-repeal-of-anti-lgbt-h-b-2/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/13/turnout-north-carolina-launches-town-hall-series-focused-on-repeal-of-anti-lgbt-h-b-2/#respond Wed, 13 Apr 2016 19:21:40 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69669

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Today, TurnOUT! North Carolina announced a series of town hall meetings across the Tar Heel State, focused on engaging and mobilizing pro-equality North Carolinians against House Bill 2 (H.B. 2) in the upcoming legislative session. A joint effort of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Equality NC TurnOUT! NC has been working to repeal the discriminatory legislation since it was signed by Gov. McCrory  March 23. The North Carolina General Assembly returns for its 2016 short session  April 25.

The first town hall will take place tomorrow, Thursday, April 14th at Le Meridien in Charlotte from 7 to 9pm. Speakers will include Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, Charlotte City Councilmember Al Austin, HRC President Chad Griffin, Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro, and other local LGBT community members.

“Over the last several weeks, state legislative leaders have heard from a growing chorus of North Carolinians, civil rights advocates, business executives and faith leaders that H.B. 2 is dangerous to people and business across the state,” said HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse. “In Charlotte this Thursday and in cities across the state over the next two weeks, we must continue to stand up, speak out, and ensure the state legislature approaches the coming short session with an understanding of how urgently this discriminatory bill must be repealed.”

“While H.B. 2 was hatched to divide our state and distract from the real issues we face during this pivotal election year, the result has been the opposite: H.B. 2 has galvanized our allies, business voices, and faith communities to stand together against this and other anti-LGBT laws,” said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro. “We’re proud to lead this campaign against this craven attack on LGBT people, and further inspire even more fair-minded North Carolinians to turn up and turn out against this measure in the days, weeks and months ahead.”

H.B. 2 has eliminated existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and prevents such protections from being passed by cities in the future. The legislation also forces transgender students in public schools to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity, putting $4.5 billion in federal funding under Title IX at risk. It also compels the same type of discrimination against transgender people in publicly-owned buildings, including public universities, major airports, and convention centers. Lawmakers passed the legislation in a hurried, single-day session, and Governor McCrory quickly signed it into law in the dead of night.

North Carolina has the unfortunate distinction of becoming the first state in the country to enact a law attacking transgender students, even after similar proposals were rejected across the country this year — including a high-profile veto by the Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota. North Carolina school districts that comply with the law will now be in direct violation of Title IX, subjecting the school districts to massive liability and putting at risk an estimated $4.5 billion of federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education, as well as funding received by schools from other federal agencies. This section of H.B. 2 offers costly supposed “solutions” to non-existent problems, and forces schools to choose between complying with federal law — and doing the right thing for their students — or complying with a state law that violates students’ civil rights.

As a result of North Carolina’s H.B. 2 law, which puts thousands of youth, citizens, employees, and visitors to the state at risk, more than 130 business leaders are calling for a repeal effort during the upcoming legislative session and a number of businesses have begun to remove investments from the state.

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Robert De Niro to be honored at 27th annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/13/robert-de-niro-to-be-honored-at-27th-annual-glaad-media-awards-in-new-york/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/13/robert-de-niro-to-be-honored-at-27th-annual-glaad-media-awards-in-new-york/#respond Wed, 13 Apr 2016 19:04:25 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69664
Robert De Niro

Robert De Niro

NEW YORK, N.Y. – GLAAD announced today it will honor Academy Award-winning actor Robert De Niro at the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York at the Waldorf Astoria New York May 14.

The 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards are presented by Delta Air Lines, Hilton, Ketel One Vodka, and Wells Fargo. The GLAAD Media Awards recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate, and inclusive representations of the LGBT community and the issues that affect their lives. The GLAAD Media Awards also fund GLAAD’s work to amplify stories from the LGBT community and issues that build support for equality and acceptance.

 

De Niro will receive GLAAD’s Excellence in Media Award, which is presented to media professionals who have made a significant difference in promoting equality and acceptance. Previous Excellence in Media Award honorees include Kelly Ripa, Russell Simmons, Tyra Banks, Judy Shepard, Julianne Moore, Glenn Close, Barbara Walters, Bob and Harvey Weinstein, Diane Sawyer, and Vanessa Redgrave.

Robert De Niro is a two-time Academy Award-winning actor and a longtime ally to the LGBT community. Most recently, he shared with audiences the story of his gay father in Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro, Sr., a 2014 HBO documentary directed by Perri Peltz and Geeta Gandbhir. In it, De Niro movingly recounted his father’s struggle with self-acceptance, not living openly until the latter part of his life.

In addition to his outspoken advocacy in support of marriage equality, De Niro has brought LGBT storylines to broader audiences. In 2002, he co-founded the Tribeca Film Festival, which has made LGBT inclusion a hallmark of its annual film line-up. He produced and starred in the 1999 film Flawless, which told the story of a man and his friendship with a transgender woman. In 2007, De Niro portrayed an openly gay character in Stardust, which received a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Film – Wide Release.

De Niro will next be seen in The Weinstein Company’s boxing film Hands of Stone, on August 26, 2016. He is currently filming The Comedian with director Taylor Hackford, and is in post-production for HBO’s Wizard of Lies, in which he is starring and is executive producer.

“Through his work honoring the memory of his openly gay father, Robert De Niro has not only sent a message of acceptance to LGBT people, but also educated audiences of the harms of anti-LGBT prejudice and discrimination,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “He is a tireless advocate who has helped bring to the world LGBT storylines that spark dialogue, build support, and encourage understanding.”

Additional special guests and honorees for the GLAAD Media Awards in New York will be announced.

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North Carolina Gov. signs executive order modifying HB2 http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/12/north-carolina-gov-signs-executive-order-modifying-hb2/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/12/north-carolina-gov-signs-executive-order-modifying-hb2/#respond Tue, 12 Apr 2016 22:24:14 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69653
Pat McCrory

Pat McCrory

Following a huge backlash against the anti-LGBT House Bill 2 North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory today signed an executive order modifying the bill, albeit somewhat modestly.

McCrory’s action affirms that private businesses, nonprofits, and local governments can establish their own employment nondiscrimination policies — for their own workers. And it expands the state’s employment nondiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation and gender identity — that is, for state employees, reports The Advocate.

While the governor’s executive order extends protections to state workers, it does nothing to fix the discriminatory provisions he signed into law through HB 2. Under HB 2, transgender people are prohibited from using restrooms consistent with their gender identity in public buildings, including the University of North Carolina campus and the Raleigh-Durham Airport. Cities still cannot adopt ordinances designed to prohibit discrimination against their residents and visitors. And, today’s action does not undo the damage to the state nondiscrimination laws, which now prevent individuals from bringing suit in state courts.

LGBTQ advocates were quick to criticize McCrory’s actions  saying his actions just did not go far enough.

“Gov. McCrory’s executive order today is too little too late. It is like trying to solve a massive life threatening injury with a small band-aid that doesn’t come close to covering the wound. Complete repeal of HB2 and the passage of comprehensive statewide non-discrimination legislation are the only actions that will provide real, strong protections for all the LGBTQ people of North Carolina.” said Rea Carey, executive director, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund.

HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said, “The governor’s action is an insufficient response to a terrible, misguided law that continues to harm LGBT people on a daily basis. It’s absurd that he’ll protect people from being fired but will prohibit them from using the employee restroom consistent with their gender identity. The North Carolina Legislature must act to right this wrong as swiftly as possible. They created this horrendous law, and they need to repeal it.”

Equality North Carolina and the HRC continue to call on the governor and North Carolina’s elected officials to repeal HB 2.

“While Gov. McCrory’s Executive Order creates vital protections in public employment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, it does not address the deep concerns we share with members of the business community and citizens across the state about the damaging impact of HB 2,” said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro. “In fact, the order doubles down on the Governor’s support for some of the most problematic provisions of HB 2.”

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Pope Francis relaxes rules on divorce but will not support gay marriage http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/08/pope-francis-relaxes-rules-on-divorce-but-will-not-support-gay-marriage/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/08/pope-francis-relaxes-rules-on-divorce-but-will-not-support-gay-marriage/#respond Fri, 08 Apr 2016 17:42:42 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69587
Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Pope Francis on Friday called for a Church that was less strict and more compassionate towards “imperfect” Catholics, such as those who divorced and remarried, saying “no one can be condemned forever”, reported Reuters.

However the Pope also reaffirmed that the church would not support gay marriage. Francis said gays should be respected but firmly re-stated the Church’s position that there are “absolutely no grounds” to equate gay unions to heterosexual marriage.

Responding to Pope Francis’ pronouncement, Mary Beth Maxwell, senior vice president for Programs, Research and Training at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation released the following statement:

“We had hoped that Pope Francis’ more open and loving message about LGBT people would translate into fuller inclusion during the Church’s Year of Mercy, and we are disappointed today. The good news is, we know that a strong majority of U.S. Catholics believe in equality for LGBT people and that in a growing number of Catholic families and parishes all across this country we are welcomed for who we are, not judged or excluded because of doctrine. We will continue working, along with so many committed people of faith, toward full inclusion and participation in our beloved Church, and we look to the day when Pope Francis’ call for a loving and welcoming Church includes the LGBT faithful and our families.”

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PA Gov. Wolf expands non-discrimination protections for state workers, contractors http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/07/pa-gov-wolf-expands-non-discrimination-protections-for-state-workers-contractors/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/07/pa-gov-wolf-expands-non-discrimination-protections-for-state-workers-contractors/#respond Thu, 07 Apr 2016 20:51:29 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69572

Wolf--HARRISBURG, Pa. – Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf today signed two executive orders that expand protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender expression or identity for state employees and, for the first time, employees of contractors doing business with the commonwealth. Governor Wolf’s executive orders come as the Pennsylvania Fairness Act, which would apply these protections to all Pennsylvania workers, remains stalled in the General Assembly.

“With no sign that Republican leaders plan to free this bill that has broad, bi-partisan support, I am taking action to protect those that I can and send a signal to the country that Pennsylvania is open for business no matter who you are or whom you love,” Governor Wolf said. “What happened in North Carolina, and what is going on in other states, should be a call to pass non-discrimination legislation in Pennsylvania now.

“We must show that Pennsylvania is the place that William Penn envisioned when he founded our commonwealth on the principle that it is open, diverse, and inclusive for all people. I call on the General Assembly to swiftly put legislation on my desk that ensures that people throughout the commonwealth – regardless of sexual orientation, gender expression or identity – are treated equally under Pennsylvania law.”

The purpose of these executive orders is to establish policy, procedures and responsibilities for the prohibition of discrimination and affirmation of equal employment opportunity in the commonwealth. Agencies under the Governor’s jurisdiction, employees and applicants for employment in those agencies, and vendors are affected by these Executive Orders.

Business owners and advocates joined Governor Wolf in calling for the legislature to finally pass the Pennsylvania Fairness Act.

“As a Philadelphia-based LGBT Business Enterprise with nearly $2 million in annual revenue and 20 employees, it is vital for us to be able to attract and retain talented and diverse team members,” said Marc Coleman, President of the Tactile Group in Philadelphia. “Today’s announcement is especially timely as legislators in both North Carolina and Mississippi attempt to roll back the equality clock with their latest batch of discriminatory laws. It’s encouraging to live in a state whose leadership is empathetic to the challenges of the LGBT business community, sees the value of diversity, and understands the need for inclusion.”

The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce applauded Gov. Wolf  in signing these executive orders, “We applaud Gov. Wolf for these proactive orders that will have dramatic economic impact on his state. He clearly agrees with NGLCC that an economy only succeeds when its workforce and supply chains are fully inclusive, free from fear and discrimination,” said NGLCC President and Co-Founder Justin Nelson. “To prohibit discrimination against LGBT business owners in contracting is a bold step, and the next logical step is the intentional inclusion of certified LGBT Business Enterprises (LGBTBEs) in all statewide contracting and procurement opportunities alongside women, minority, disability and veteran owned businesses. We stand ready to work in partnership with Gov. Wolf’s administration to implement such an initiative as we have with California, Massachusetts, corporations, and federal agencies.”

NGLCC Co-Founder and CEO Chance Mitchell added, “While other states are irreparably damaging their economic prospects and their public opinion through discriminatory ‘religious freedom’ laws, Pennsylvania is setting a precedent that the American Dream should be accessible to all Americans. As we have seen everywhere pro-LGBT inclusive policies are enacted, we can expect a major increase in job-creating, economy-innovating LGBT businesses to thrive throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

The first executive order the governor signed today says that no agency under the Governor’s jurisdiction shall discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment on the basis of race, color, religious creed, ancestry, union membership, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, national origin, AIDS or HIV status, or disability. Executive Order 2003-10 will be rescinded and replaced by this executive order.

Each agency under the Governor’s jurisdiction will ensure fair and equal employment opportunities exist at every level of government.

The second executive order will ensure that all contracting processes of commonwealth agencies will be nondiscriminatory and that all businesses contracting with the commonwealth as well as all grantees should use nondiscriminatory practices in subcontracting, hiring, promoting, and other labor matters. Executive Order 2006-02 will be rescinded and replaced by the executive order.

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Pennsylvania governor to sign LGBT non-discrimination executive orders http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/07/pennsylvania-governor-to-sign-lgbt-non-discrimination-executive-orders/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/07/pennsylvania-governor-to-sign-lgbt-non-discrimination-executive-orders/#respond Thu, 07 Apr 2016 19:01:07 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69559
Tom Wolf

Tom Wolf

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has announced that he will sign executive orders stating “no agency under the governor’s jurisdiction shall discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender expression, and identity, among other areas.”  According to the governor’s office, one of the executive orders will pertain to commonwealth employees and the other to the commonwealth grants and procurement process. Pennsylvania already has an executive order protecting state employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The governors statement in full read,

“Governor Wolf tomorrow will sign two executive orders – one pertaining to commonwealth employees and the other to the commonwealth grants and procurement process – that each say no agency under the governor’s jurisdiction shall discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender expression, and identity, among other areas. This is an important step in ensuring equality, but Pennsylvania must do more and the governor will also call on the legislature to finally pass non-discrimination legislation. What happened in North Carolina, and what is going on in other states, should be a call to pass non-discrimination legislation in Pennsylvania now. The governor wants to make clear that Pennsylvania is inclusive, welcoming, and open for business for everyone.”

“All Pennsylvanians deserve to be able to live, work, and thrive in their communities free from unfair and unjust discrimination,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “While the governors of North Carolina and Mississippi have signed into law deplorable legislation targeting LGBT people, Governor Wolf is standing up and sending a completely different message – one that tells the world Pennsylvania is a welcoming state that values diversity and human dignity. These executive actions are welcome news, but as Governor Wolf has said, there’s more work to be done. It’s far past time for the Pennsylvania General Assembly to pass the Pennsylvania Fairness Act so that all Pennsylvanians, no matter who they are or whom they love, can live their lives without fear of discrimination.”

The bipartisan Pennsylvania Fairness Act was introduced last August in the Pennsylvania General Assembly in order to update the state’s non-discrimination law to explicitly include protections for LGBT people from discrimination at work, in housing, and in public places. Both chambers have so far failed to show the leadership needed to take action on the critically important legislation.

According to a recent survey, 95% of Pennsylvanians believe that everyone needs to be able to earn a living – including LGBT people – and that employees should be hired, fired or promoted based on their qualifications, experience and the jobs they do – nothing more, nothing less.  An incredible 78% of Pennsylvanians support updating the state’s non-discrimination law to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Pennsylvania’s economy is the sixth largest in the country with nearly 6 million Pennsylvanians going to work every day to support themselves and their families. A statewide, uniform non-discrimination law protecting people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity would provide certainty and clarity to Pennsylvania employers and employees.  34 Pennsylvania municipalities have passed separate ordinances to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, including Pittsburgh, Lancaster, Erie, Harrisburg, Scranton, and Philadelphia.

 

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Scripps recognized for health care equality for LGBT patients http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/06/scripps-recognized-for-health-care-equality-for-lgbt-patients/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/06/scripps-recognized-for-health-care-equality-for-lgbt-patients/#respond Wed, 06 Apr 2016 16:16:36 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69507

scripps_healthSAN DIEGO – Scripps Health’s five hospital campuses have each been recognized as a “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality” in the Healthcare Equality Index 2016, an annual survey conducted by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organization. The survey is used to evaluate inclusive policies and practices related to LGBT patients, visitors and employees.

For the fifth consecutive year, Scripps hospitals earned top marks in meeting non-discrimination and training criteria that demonstrate the health system’s commitment to equitable, inclusive care for LGBT patients and their families, who can face significant challenges in securing adequate health care and respect they deserve.

“At Scripps, we believe in treating every individual with dignity and respect,” James LaBelle, M.D., Scripps Chief Medical Officer. “This distinction by the HRC Foundation further demonstrates our commitment to delivering quality, compassionate care to our diverse patient population, Dr. LaBelle said.

Scripps hospitals were among a select group of health care facilities nationwide to be named Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality. Facilities awarded this title meet key criteria, including patient and employee non-discrimination policies that specifically mention sexual orientation and gender identity, a guarantee of equal visitation for same-sex partners and parents, and LGBT health education for key staff members.

“Despite all the progress we’ve made, far too many LGBT people still lack inclusive and affirming health care. Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality are helping to change that, and, in the process, making the lives of LGBT patients and their families better each and every day,” said Chad Griffin, HRC president. “LGBT people have a right to be treated equally in all aspects of our lives, and HRC celebrates Scripps Health for its work to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all patients.”

For more information about the Healthcare Equality Index or to download a free copy of the report, visit www.hrc.org/hei.

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Mississippi governor signs law attacking LGBT people and families http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/05/mississippi-governor-signs-law-attacking-lgbt-people-and-families/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/05/mississippi-governor-signs-law-attacking-lgbt-people-and-families/#respond Tue, 05 Apr 2016 21:55:16 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69490

JACKSON, Miss. – Today, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law H.B. 1523, “The Religious Liberty Accommodations Act.” National corporations and businesses have spoken out against the horrific measure, that would allow individuals, religious organizations and private associations to use religion to discriminate against LGBT Mississippians in some of the most important aspects of their lives, including at work, at schools, and in their communities. Following Kansas and North Carolina, Mississippi becomes the third state this legislative session to sign into law an explicitly anti-LGBT bill.

Some of the state’s largest employers, including Nissan Group of North America, Tyson Food Inc, MGM Resorts International, and Toyota publicly voiced their opposition to the appalling legislation, joining national corporations such as AT&T, IBM, Levi Strauss & Co, MassMutual, General Electric, and Hyatt Hotel Corporations. In a statement yesterday, Jay C. Moon, President and CEO of the Mississippi Manufacturers Association (MMA) called for Governor Bryant to veto the measure saying: “It is clear that many of our members find that HB 1523 would violate their corporate policies expressly providing for an inclusive workplace environment that supports diversity. This is not a bill that the MMA supports and we hope that it will not find its way into law.”And last week, the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi released a strongly worded statement condemning the bill as well.

“Gov Phil Bryant adds his name to a list of disgraced Southern governors by signing this hateful and discriminatory bill into law,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Governor Bryant refused to meet with LGBT people and even turned us away at the door of his office. He refused to listen to business leaders. He refused to listen to Mississippians. And now his state will suffer because of his ignorance and failure of leadership. Just as we’re doing elsewhere, we will continue to rally fair-minded voters, businesses, and civil rights advocates to repeal.”

At a rally yesterday evening outside the governor’s mansion, HRC President Chad Griffin joined HRC Mississippi, the ACLU of Mississippi, Southern Poverty Law Center, Planned Parenthood Southeast, Gulf Coast Equality and hundreds of advocates from across Mississippi urging Governor Bryant to veto HB 1523. Earlier, HRC requested that the governor meet with LGBT Mississippians, but that call has gone unanswered — and advocates were turned away from his office. Speaker Philip Gunn also refused an HRC request that he meet with the LGBT community before yesterday’s final vote on the discriminatory bill.

Under this new law, religion could be used by most any individual or organization to justify discrimination against LGBT people, single mothers, unwed couples and others.  Tax-payer funded faith-based organizations could: refuse to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples for provision of critical services including emergency shelter; deny children in need of loving homes placement with LGBT families including the child’s own family member; and refuse to sell or rent a for-profit home to an LGBT person — even if the organization receives government funding. It would also give foster families the freedom to subject an LGBTQ child to the dangerous practice of “conversion therapy,” and subject a pregnant unwed girl to abuse, without fear of government intervention or license suspension. It would even allow individuals to refuse to carry out the terms of a state contract for the provision of counseling services to all eligible individuals, including veterans, based on the counselor’s beliefs about LGBT people or single mothers.

Furthermore, schools, employers, and service providers could refuse transgender people access to appropriate sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity — all in direct conflict with the U.S. Department of Justice’s enforcement of federal law. HB 1523 even legalizes Kim Davis-style discrimination by allowing government employees to abdicate their duties and refuse to license or solemnize marriages for LGBT people.

Mississippi’s HB 1523 is the third stand-alone anti-LGBT bill signed in law in 2016. The attack on fairness and equality are part of an onslaught of anti-LGBT bills being pushed in 2016 by anti-equality activists around the country, including nearly 200 anti-LGBT bills in 34 states. As of today, at least half of these bills have been beaten back around the country.

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New federal housing policy aims to eliminate discrimination against LGBTQ people with a criminal record http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/04/new-federal-housing-policy-aims-to-eliminate-discrimination-against-lgbtq-people-with-a-criminal-record/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/04/new-federal-housing-policy-aims-to-eliminate-discrimination-against-lgbtq-people-with-a-criminal-record/#respond Mon, 04 Apr 2016 19:20:46 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69467
hudWASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released a new federal policy that aims to eliminate housing discrimination against people with a criminal history, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people with a criminal record. The new policy clarifies that using criminal history to justify a negative housing decision, such as the refusal to rent to or renew a lease for someone, or the refusal to sell to or to give someone a mortgage on a new home, may violate the Fair Housing Act (1968).
“HUD just made it significantly easier for people with criminal records to secure housing. Nearly a third of the adult U.S. population has a criminal record, including millions of LGBTQ people, who we know are disproportionately likely to be involved with the criminal legal system,” said Meghan Maury, Criminal and Economic Justice Project Director, National LGBTQ Task Force. “A lack of stable housing exacerbates challenges for people who may also struggle with getting jobs, physical and mental healthcare, and other supports based on their criminal record. We look forward to seeing how providers change their standards to comply with this clarifying guidance.”

The new guidance from HUD explains how current housing decisions may violate federal housing and civil rights laws. First, if a housing provider intentionally discriminates by treating people who have criminal records differently based on race or ethnicity, they are violating the Fair Housing Act. Second, restrictions based on criminal history may burden members of one race or ethnicity more than another, leading to liability under a “discriminatory effects” theory. The new federal guidance is not binding but it does put providers on notice that continuing to screen applicants for criminal history may subject them to legal liability.

Black and Latino people stand to benefit from the new policy as both groups are policed and incarcerated at greater rates than white people. For example, one in three Black men is incarcerated at some point in their life, as are one in six Latino men. In comparison, only one in seventeen white men is incarcerated in their lifetime. In part, this is a result of disparities in enforcement of our nation’s drug laws. Though white and black people have similar rates of drug use, black people are ten times more likely to be sent to jail or prison on drug offenses.
The National LGBTQ Task Force has been pushing HUD to eliminate barriers to housing opportunities for LGBTQ people, particularly LGBTQ people of color and LGBTQ people who have a criminal record. In addition to meeting with the federal housing regulators, the National LGBTQ Task Force joined the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Shriver Center calling for equal housing opportunities for all.
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Jason Collins: North Carolina’s anti-LGBT law ‘casts dark shadow over tonight’s NCAA Championship game’ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/04/jason-collins-north-carolinas-anti-lgbt-law-casts-dark-shadow-over-tonights-ncaa-championship-game/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/04/jason-collins-north-carolinas-anti-lgbt-law-casts-dark-shadow-over-tonights-ncaa-championship-game/#respond Mon, 04 Apr 2016 19:13:28 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69463
Jason Collins

Jason Collins

As the University of North Carolina (UNC) men’s basketball team heads to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship game tonight, its hard work and success are being overshadowed by the reckless actions of North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory and state lawmakers. Jason Collins, the first active NBA player to come out as gay, has spoken out saying the anti-LGBT law casts a dark shadow over tonight’s NCAA Championship game.

“On what should be a tremendously exciting night for North Carolina and its legions of fervent college basketball fans, the discriminatory actions of the state’s legislature and governor are casting a deep shadow over the Tar Heel state,” said Collins. “I join other champions of equality in calling on Gov. Pat McCrory and the state’s elected leaders to repeal its grossly anti-LGBT law — not only, and most importantly, to protect its own citizens, but also to assure the NCAA that North Carolina is welcoming to all and deserves to retain its historic role as a leading host of league events.”

With his signature on the deeply discriminatory law that was passed through the legislature  March 23, Gov. McCrory has placed North Carolina not only at risk of losing an estimated $4.5 billion of federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education, but also at risk of being denied the ability to host future NCAA and NBA events in the state. The new law eliminated existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people, and forces transgender students in public schools and universities, as well as many transgender people in publicly-owned buildings, to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity.

Over the past week, Gov. McCrory and state lawmakers have been coming under increasingly intense pressure to repeal the discriminatory law in the upcoming legislative session later this month. More than 120 major CEOs and business leaders from across the country are calling on state leaders to repeal the radical new law, and the outcry continues to grow. Mayors and governors across the country are banning travel to the state, and the New York Times editorial board calls North Carolina a “pioneer in bigotry.”  Google Ventures is just one of many businesses that have stopped investments in the state until the anti-LGBT law is repealed.

Tonight’s championship game is being played in a city that the NCAA has said is also at risk of losing future NCAA events because of November’s shameful referendum that repealed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) – a critical measure that provided non-discrimination protections for LGBT and other minority Houstonians and visitors. The campaign to repeal HERO at the ballot was fueled by lies, scare tactics, and fear-mongering about transgender people – the same tactics used by anti-equality activists in North Carolina to pass House Bill 2. While it was horrible that HERO’s critical non-discrimination protections were never allowed to go into effect, HB 2 is worse because it targets LGBT, and particularly transgender people, and writes discrimination against them into law.

North Carolina’s HB 2 has eliminated existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and prevents such protections from being passed by cities in the future. The legislation also forces transgender students in public schools to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity, putting 4.5 billion dollars in federal funding under Title IX at risk. It also compels the same type of discrimination against transgender people to take place in state buildings, including in public universities.  Lawmakers passed the legislation in a hurried, single-day session on March 23rd, and Gov. McCrory quickly signed it into law in the dead of night.

North Carolina has the unfortunate distinction of becoming the first state in the country to enact a law attacking transgender students, even after similar proposals were rejected across the country this year — including a high-profile veto by the Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota. North Carolina school districts that comply with the law will now be in direct violation of Title IX, subjecting the school districts to massive liability and putting an estimated $4.5 billion of federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education, as well as funding received by schools from other federal agencies, at risk. This section of HB 2 offers costly supposed solutions to non-existent problems, and it forces schools to choose between complying with federal law — plus doing the right thing for their students — or complying with a state law that violates students’ civil rights.

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Virginia governor vetoes anti-LGBT bill http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/30/virginia-governor-vetoes-anti-lgbt-bill/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/30/virginia-governor-vetoes-anti-lgbt-bill/#respond Wed, 30 Mar 2016 22:42:41 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69317

Today, Virgina Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed an anti-LGBT bill  that would have allowed businesses to discriminate against LGBT people based on their religious opposition to same-sex marriage.

The Advocate reported that the bill would have prevented the state from penalizing businesses and individuals who cite faith-based grounds for discriminating against same-sex couples, transgender people, and people who have sex outside of marriage.

The Washington Blade reported that McAuliffe said in a statement that Senate Bill 41 is “nothing more than an attempt to stigmatize.”

“This legislation is also bad for business and creates roadblocks as we try to build the new Virginia economy,” he said. “Businesses and job creators do not want to locate or do business in states that appear more concerned with demonizing people than with creating a strong business climate.”

“Legislation that immunizes the discriminatory actions of certain people and institutions at the expense of same-sex couples would damage Virginia’s reputation for commonsense, pro-business government,” added McAuliffe. “We need only look at the damage these types of laws are doing in other states to understand the harm this bill could bring to our Commonwealth and its economy.”

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Bank of America, American Airlines, Cisco, Miramax and Uber join list demanding repeal of N.C. HB 2 http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/30/bank-of-america-american-airlines-cisco-miramax-and-uber-join-list-demanding-repeal-of-n-c-hb-2/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/30/bank-of-america-american-airlines-cisco-miramax-and-uber-join-list-demanding-repeal-of-n-c-hb-2/#respond Wed, 30 Mar 2016 20:12:36 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69296

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC),and Equality NC, have announced that executives from Bank of America, American Airlines, Cisco, Miramax, Uber, Google Ventures, and Braeburn Pharmaceuticals have signed onto an open letter that now includes more than 90 leading CEOs and business leaders calling on Gov. Pat McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly to repeal the radical provisions in the  discriminatory House Bill 2 that was passed by the legislature last week.

The letter — signed by dozens of CEOs from across the nation — was made public yesterday afternoon, and came only a day after Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announced he would veto anti-LGBT legislation in Georgia after facing a sustained outcry from a broad chorus of advocates and companies. On Thursday morning, HRC President Chad Griffin and Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro will deliver the letter personally to Gov. McCrory’s office. Griffin and Sgro have also requested a meeting with the governor on Thursday in order to discuss the very real impact this new law will have on LGBT North Carolinians. A copy of the letter and its signatories can be found here.

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N.C. attorney general will not defend anti-LGBT law http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/29/n-c-attorney-general-will-not-defend-anti-lgbt-law/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/29/n-c-attorney-general-will-not-defend-anti-lgbt-law/#respond Tue, 29 Mar 2016 17:35:52 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69282
Roy Cooper

Roy Cooper

RALEIGH, N.C. – In a press conference Tuesday, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper has said his office will not defend HB2, the law adopted last week that strikes down locally enacted protections for LGBT people, saying that the bill is unconstitutional.

The News Observer reported that Cooper called the measure “a national embarrassment” that “will set North Carolina’s economy back if we don’t repeal it.”

Since Gov. McCrory signed the bill into law there has been a wave of opposition from leading corporations, including from Dow, Biogen, PayPal, RedHat, the NCAA, American Airlines, Salesforce, IBM, Apple, the NBA, Google, Microsoft, Marriott, Bayer, and others. Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a ban on all non-essential travel to North Carolina by state officials in protest at the bill.

Four organizations challenging the bill in federal court – The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina, Equality NC and Lambda Legal – released a joint statement praising Cooper’s decision: “North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, the state’s top law enforcement official, has concluded House Bill 2 is unconstitutional and harms North Carolinians without justification,” the statement said. “As our lawsuit highlighted yesterday, House Bill 2 singles out the LGBT community for discrimination. That’s not only incompatible with the state’s constitutional and legal obligations but also our shared values as North Carolinians.”

Gov. McCrory’s new law eliminates existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and some veterans; prevents such provisions from being passed by cities in the future; and forces transgender students in public schools, as well as adults in state buildings, including public universities, to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity.

“Attorney General Cooper has made the right call for a very simple reason. He has a responsibility to protect and defend the United States Constitution and this bill, signed into law under the cover of darkness by Gov. McCrory, is blatantly unconstitutional under existing precedent,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “Gov. McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly need to immediately repeal the discriminatory provisions of this bill.”

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Georgia governor will veto anti-LGBT bill http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/28/georgia-governor-will-veto-anti-lgbt-bill/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/28/georgia-governor-will-veto-anti-lgbt-bill/#respond Mon, 28 Mar 2016 17:20:46 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69257
Nathan Deal

Nathan Deal

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announced this morning he will veto H.B. 757, a “religious liberty” bill that passed the state legislature. The legislation, which sparked a massive backlash of opposition from a broad array of civil rights groups and leaders in Hollywood and corporate America, would have weakened local non-discrimination protections, allowed businesses to discriminate and deny service to LGBT people, and explicitly empowered discrimination by taxpayer-funded religious organizations.

Speaking to reporters Monday morning, Deal, a Republican, said he didn’t think the bill was necessary.

“In light of our history, I find it ironic that today some in the religious community feel it necessary to ask government to confer upon them certain rights and protections. If indeed our religious liberty is conferred by God and not by man-made government, we should need the “hands-off” admonition of the First Amendment to our Constitution. When legislative bodies attempt to do otherwise, the inclusions and omissions in their statutes can lead to discrimination, even though it may be unintentional. That is too great a risk to take,” he said.

Deal’s veto comes one week after HRC President Chad Griffin called on Hollywood to stop productions in Georgia if Deal refused to veto the legislation at HRC’s Los Angeles Gala. Soon after, many of the biggest entertainment companies in the world responded to the call — including 21st Century Fox, AMC Networks, CBS Corp., Comcast NBCUniversal, Lionsgate, Live Nation, MGM, Netflix, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Starz, The Walt Disney Co., Time Warner, The Weinstein Company and Viacom. And more than thirty  leading actors, directors, producers, musicians, and agents signed HRC’s letter demanding that he veto the proposal.

Responding to those calls Deal said, “I do not respond well to insults or threats. The people of Georgia deserve a leader who will made sound judgments based on solid reasons that are not inflamed by emotion. That is what I intend to do.”

In response to the governor’s announcement HRC President Chad Griffin said, “Our message to Gov. Nathan Deal was loud and clear: this deplorable legislation was bad for his constituents, bad for business, and bad for Georgia’s future. Today, Gov. Deal heard the voices of Georgians, civil rights organizations, as well as the many leaders in the entertainment industry and private sector who condemned this attack on the fundamental rights of LGBT people, and he has set an example for other elected officials to follow. Discrimination and intolerance have no place in the United States of America, and we hope North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly are paying close attention to what has transpired in Georgia. They must undo their disgraceful attack on LGBT people in the state’s upcoming legislative session.”

Deal ended his speech with a characterization of Georgia as, ” a welcoming state filled with warm, friendly and loving people.  Our cities and countryside are populated with people who worship God in a myriad of ways and in very diverse settings. Our people work side-by-side without regard to the color of our skin, or the religion we adhere to. We are working to make life better for our families and our communities. That is the character of Georgia. I intend to do my part to keep it that way. For that reason, I will veto HB 757.”

Georgia is among a majority of states that lack explicit LGBT non-discrimination protections. Nonpartisan polling from Public Religion Research Institute released this year found that a majority of Georgians oppose allowing businesses to discriminate and deny service to LGBT people — only 37 percent support such a bill and 57 percent oppose. Georgians also reported that they support protecting LGBT people from discrimination in employment, housing and access to public services by an overwhelming 66-28 margin.

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Entertainment industry leaders call on Georgia governor to veto HB 757 http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/24/entertainment-industry-leaders-call-on-georgia-governor-to-veto-hb-757/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/24/entertainment-industry-leaders-call-on-georgia-governor-to-veto-hb-757/#comments Thu, 24 Mar 2016 16:25:49 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69180
Nathan Deal

Nathan Deal

WASHINGTON – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) sent a letter to Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal on behalf of dozens of entertainment industry leaders who will abandon production in the state if he signs the anti-LGBT H.B. 757 into law. The letter follows a call to action from HRC President Chad Griffin, who delivered a speech in Los Angeles last Saturday urging Hollywood executives to stand up to Gov. Deal and speak out against the dangerous and discriminatory legislation that could become law. H.B. 757 could weaken local non-discrimination protections and allow businesses to discriminate and deny service to LGBT people, in addition to explicitly allowing discrimination by taxpayer-funded religious organizations. Later today, additional studios and entertainment leaders are expected to announce they will abandon operations in Georgia if H.B. 757 is enacted.

“We applaud the dozens of leaders from the entertainment industry who are taking a stand today against discrimination, intolerance, and bigotry,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “The entertainment industry has a huge economic footprint in Georgia, and the choice for Governor Deal could not be any clearer: he must veto this outrageous legislation before it inflicts tremendous damage on the state. This outrageous and discriminatory legislation is an affront to the values we all share.”

This past Saturday night at the Los Angeles HRC Gala, HRC President Chad Griffin addressed nearly 1,000 supporters and leaders in the entertainment industry and called on Hollywood to stop productions in Georgia if Gov. Nathan Deal doesn’t veto the new Indiana-style “license to discriminate” bill passed by the state legislature last week. According to the State of Georgia, which offers major tax incentives for entertainment companies to film in the state, at least 248 film and television productions were shot in Georgia during the state’s 2015 fiscal year. This resulted in at least $1.7 billion in direct spending as well as more than 100 new businesses relocating to or expanding in Georgia to support these activities.

In addition to this letter from the entertainment industry, sports teams, major corporations, and countless businesses have spoken out against the Georgia bill, including: Apple, the Atlanta Braves, the Atlanta Falcons, the Atlanta Hawks, Dell, the Dow Chemical Company, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Hilton, Intel, Intercontinental Hotels, Live Nation Entertainment, Marriott, MailChimp, the Metro Atlanta Chamber, Microsoft, the NFL, Paypal, Salesforce, Square, Turner, Twitter, Unilever, Virgin, Yelp, and many others.

HRC and Georgia Unites have also delivered more than 75,000 email petitions to Gov. Deal urging him to veto the measure which could undermine local non-discrimination ordinances that protect LGBT people, permit hospitals to refuse to provide medically necessary care, or even allow a taxpayer-funded service provider to discriminate by denying a job because of the applicant’s religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

The full letter to Governor Deal and signatures follow:

“Dear Governor Deal,

As leaders in the entertainment industry, we have deep concerns about H.B. 757, which would sanction discrimination against LGBT people and others in Georgia.

As you know, Atlanta is often referred to as the Hollywood of the South. During the last fiscal year, at least 248 films and television productions were shot in Georgia, adding at least $1.7 billion in direct spending to the state’s economy. Additionally, the entertainment industry helped to bring more than 100 businesses to Georgia through relocation or expansion in the past fiscal year. Only two states — California and New York — have a larger entertainment industry footprint and both have statewide non-discrimination protections on the books. Unfortunately, Georgia not only lacks such protections, but could soon move from a bad situation to worse with H.B. 757.

We pride ourselves on running inclusive companies, and while we have enjoyed a positive partnership on productions in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere if any legislation sanctioning discrimination is signed into state law.

We urge you to veto H.B. 757 and send a strong message that Georgia will not tolerate discrimination against citizens, employees and visitors to the state.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of this urgent issue.”

Ali Adler, Writer and Producer
Greg Berlanti, Writer and Producer
Matt Bomer, Actor & Simon Halls, Publicist
Dustin Lance Black, Screenwriter and Filmmaker
Bradley Bredeweg, Executive Producer and Showrunner
Kristin Chenoweth, Actress and Singer
Diablo Cody, Writer, Producer and Director
Bruce Cohen, Producer
Lee Daniels, Producer and Director
Dana Fox, Writer and Producer
John Goldwyn, Producer
James Gunn, Writer and Director
Anne Hathaway, Actress
Alan Hergott, Entertainment Attorney
Nina Jacobson, Producer
Dan Jinks, Producer
Kathy Kennedy, Producer
Zoe Kravitz, Actress
Bryan Lourd, Talent Agent
Seth MacFarlane, Producer and Filmmaker
Laurence Mark, Producer
Frank Marshall, Producer and Director
Neil Meron, Producer
Julianne Moore, Actress
Ryan Murphy, Producer
Peter Paige, Executive Producer and Showrunner
Rob Reiner, Actor, Director and Producer
Sarah Schechter, Producer
Adam Shankman, Director and Producer
Aaron Sorkin, Screenwriter and Producer
Marisa Tomei, Actress
Gus Van Sant, Producer and Director
Harvey Weinstein, Producer and Film Studio Executive
Craig Zadan, Producer and Director

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Tennessee Senate Committee advances anti-transgender legislation http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/23/tennessee-senate-committee-advances-anti-transgender-legislation/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/23/tennessee-senate-committee-advances-anti-transgender-legislation/#respond Wed, 23 Mar 2016 23:17:14 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69173

Today, by a vote of 7 to 2 the Tennessee Senate Education Committee advanced SB 2387  – a bill that targets transgender students in public schools and universities. The measure seeks to force transgender students to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity. The vote to advance the Senate bill comes as the House companion bill, HB 2414, was put on hold for a summer study just yesterday.

Fair-minded Tennesseans; major national child welfare, medical, and education groups; the Tennessee Equality Project; and the Human Rights Campaign have beenpleading with lawmakers to abandon the discriminatory proposal. Earlier this month, South Dakota’s Republican Governor vetoed a similar bill that would have further compounded the marginalization transgender students already face.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has echoed concerns that the discriminatory, unconstitutional measure would compromise the state’s three billion dollars in federal funding for its schools and universities. His spokesperson also said the governor “trusts our teachers and local school boards to make necessary accommodations” for transgender students.

“This vicious legislation is an assault on more than 10,000 transgender students in Tennessee,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “Being pushed by anti-equality extremists from outside the state, this measure would needlessly jeopardize millions in federal funding for Tennessee’s schools and universities. Local administrators and teachers should never be forced by a state mandate to discriminate against students who already face high rates of harassment, bullying, and discrimination. The Tennessee Senate must resoundingly reject this outrageous measure.”

Seven major national child welfare, medical, and education groups have condemned this type of discriminatory legislation – including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American School Counselor Association, the Child Welfare League of America, the National Association of School Psychologists, the National Association of Social Workers, and the National Education Association. Expressing strong opposition, the organizations made clear that the proposal “would compromise the safety and well-being of the young people we all have the duty and obligation to support and protect.”

SB 2387 and it’s companion bill, HB 2414, would put Tennessee school districts at risk of losing federal funds under Title IX, forcing them to choose between state and federal law. In April of 2014, the U.S. Department of Education issued guidance informing public schools that Title IX protects students against discrimination based on gender identity. The U.S. Department of Justice has unequivocally stated that, “Discrimination based on a person’s gender identity, a person’s transgender status, or a person’s nonconformity to sex stereotypes constitutes discrimination based on sex. As such, prohibiting a student from accessing the restrooms that match his [or her] gender identity is prohibited sex discrimination under Title IX.”

According to the Williams Institute, there are over 10,000 transgender youth in Tennessee between the ages of 13 and 19.

The proposal ties the hands of school administrators and teachers who would no longer have the flexibility they need to find workable solutions in coordination with transgender students and their parents.

In vetoing similar legislation that targeted transgender children in South Dakota, Gov. Daugaard said,

“Local school districts can, and have, made necessary restroom and locker room accommodations that serve the best interests of all students, regardless of biological sex or gender identity. This bill seeks to impose statewide standards on ‘every restroom, locker room, and shower room located in a public elementary or secondary school.’  It removes the ability of local school districts to determine the most appropriate accommodations for their individual students and replaces that flexibility with a state mandate.  If and when these rare situations arise, I believe local school officials are best positioned to address them.  Instead of encouraging local solutions, this bill broadly regulates in a manner that invites conflict and litigation, diverting energy and resources from the education of the children of this state.  Preserving local control is particularly important because this bill would place every school district in the difficult position of following state law while knowing it openly invites federal litigation.”

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